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EARLY START WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN
George Zimmerman Free on Bail; Snowstorm Threatens Northeast; New Search for Etan Patz; Etan Patz Investigation to Resume Today; Iran Says Drone Data Cracked
Aired April 23, 2012 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome, everyone, to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back, Ms. Banfield.
BANFIELD: I missed you.
SAMBOLIN: I missed you, too. Did you have a good time?
BANFIELD: Had a great -- as good as you can have with two small children under the age of 6 at Disney World.
SAMBOLIN: Thanks for joining us, everyone. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. We are bringing you the news from A to Z.
It's 5:00 a.m. in the East. So, let's get started here.
We have breaking news overnight. George Zimmerman now free on bail, walking out of jail just a few hours ago. The man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin no longer behind bars as he awaits his murder trial.
BANFIELD: Also in the news, winter finally arriving? Yes, it is spring. But here we are April and downpours, heavy winds expected, up to a foot and a half of heavy, wet snow, too, expected in parts of the Northeast. And this could be a perfect storm for power outages.
SAMBOLIN: And Wal-Mart caught in a huge multimillion dollar foreign bribery scandal, accused of buying its way into Mexico and blowing past its competition with years of payoffs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. All right, shark boy. Keep them up. Keep them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Shark boy? I'll say a little boy, right there -- hello -- reeling in the beast. His epic battle with that guy, a shark. We'll show you in a moment.
SAMBOLIN: But up first, breaking news in the Trayvon Martin murder case.
George Zimmerman is now out of jail. He was released overnight in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman walked out of jail around midnight after posting $150,000 bond. You're talking a look at him there. His ultimate destination is a secret for his own safety and could be outside of the state as well, as he awaits his murder trial.
Zimmerman is required to wear a GPS tracking device. His release comes a couple days after bond was set at a court hearing in which Zimmerman issued a surprised apology to Trayvon Martin's parents for killing their son.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, DEFENDANT: I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.
MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: Nothing further, Your Honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: CNN's Martin Savidge is live in Sanford, Florida.
Martin, probably not surprising that he was released in the middle of the night.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. We anticipated that. It was a low-key departure, but it wasn't a total stealth departure that we thought it might be, in other words, that we wouldn't see George Zimmerman at all. But, in fact, he did depart out of the normal door that people who are bonded out live, which is just behind us here.
It was just after midnight when he was escorted out from a person we don't know, but it was not his attorney. He climbed into a white BMW and then disappeared into the night. And that was, of course, the whole plan.
Very strong security concerns on the part of his defense attorney. It was known that he was negotiating with the state to possibly allow for George Zimmerman to go out of the state of Florida. But as you point out, he must always remain, well, electronically tethered to the state as a result of the GPS.
Let me go just over some of the other things he can and cannot do. He's got to wear the GPS device. He also can have no contact with Trayvon Martin's family, no possession of firearms, no drinking. He's under a curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. And every three days, he's got to check in with the state of Florida verbally.
So, those are the conditions of the release. He's now gone. His whereabouts we do not know -- Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: Martin, I also understand that they check the credentials of all the reporters that were there?
SAVIDGE: Right. Yes. Well, you know, the media, we had been staking out this particular place for several days, 24 hours a day. And the tip-off that something was going to happen came when first there were a couple of sheriff's deputy cars that block off access to this particular parking lot behind us. And then on top of that, there was someone came by and checked the credentials of the photographers that were staking out the position. That was a pretty clear indication that something was up.
And sure enough, a few minutes later, George Zimmerman came right out of that door.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Martin Savidge, live in Sanford, Florida, for us -- thank you very much.
BANFIELD: Now, three minutes past 5:00.
And winter has finally made it if you're looking outside. We had 90 degree temperatures in March, but a late April snowstorm is threatening to target the Northeast. And it could be pretty dangerous, too.
Powerful nor'easter, they're calling it, is prompting winter storm watches and warnings from West Virginia to southwest New York.
Take a look at some of the video we've got from Buffalo, New York, where bottled water is tough to come by. Snowplows really hard to miss, too, out in the streets. Did I say it was April? They are preparing for up to a foot of snow or more today.
Check out the scene a short time ago in DuBois, Pennsylvania. The snow is falling though not sticking to the pavement, at least not yet. Look at the streetlights. You can see the snow reflecting as it's coming unto that tree. Yes, I did say it was April, right?
Meteorologist Rob Marciano is tracking the storm, joins us live now from the weather center.
I was trying to remember, Rob Marciano, that we had bookends of storms. We had a huge snowstorm in the Northeast in October right before Halloween and nada kind of all season long, and here we are supposed to be going into the sunshine and the daffodils.
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Exactly. And the picture you showed there, you mention it's not quite sticking to the streets just yet. And that's not really the big concern. The big concern is that it's sticking to the trees which because of our warm spring, have a full spring foliage.
So, just like the storm we had in October, and then nothing, this storm is coming on top of trees that have leaves on them which means that that weight of the snow is going to take some of the tree limbs and in some cases, entire trees down and knock out power and block some roadways. So, that's going to be our main concern with this over the next 24 to 36 hours.
And as you can imagine, because temperatures are just barely above freezing -- right around freezing, it's a heavy, heavy, wet snow which adds even more weight with the water content.
A big storm system is engulfing the entire northeastern third of the country. Even the winds are getting all the way down to the Deep South. Some of the rain has turned over to snow in some parts of western Pennsylvania. The Allegheny here and parts of Appalachia, some of the snow is heavy at times, and also across parts of Upstate New York. Not snowing quite yet in Buffalo, but you go just to the east of Buffalo, south of Syracuse, the Finger Lakes Region right now seeing some snowfall and this will only increase as we go through time.
Four to 8 inches across parts of western Pennsylvania. Some of those numbers could be much higher, over a foot in some of the higher elevations, eight to 16 inches potentially, and 30 to 40 mile-an-hour winds. So, heavy, wet snow latching on to trees and winds blowing that around making things even worse.
We do have the threat for seeing some flooding, although most of the rain is over across the I-95. But the winds will cause some coastal flooding across parts of the Northeast. Temperatures most places will be above freezing. But in the areas where it's right at freezing, that snow is going to accumulate and we're starting to see that right now.
BANFIELD: And then, of course, we had such an early spring that all the foliage is out and almost in full bloom now. So, that makes it even worse for that snow that's going to come.
MARCIANO: Absolutely. Just catching it right there and weighing things down even more.
BANFIELD: One piece of advice, and I went through this on October. If you have your umbrella up on your patio, put it down. I nearly lost an umbrella broken right over in the weight of that snow. It all happened within an hour.
MARCIANO: Good idea. Good idea.
BANFIELD: All right. Rob, keep an eye on it. We'll check in in a few. Thanks.
MARCIANO: Sounds good.
SAMBOLIN: It is seven minutes past the hour.
Police and FBI investigators will be back at the scene in Lower Manhattan today, trying to solve a 33-year-old murder mystery. Six- year-old Etan Patz vanished back in 1979 as he walked alone in his New York City neighborhood. His disappearance put a spotlight on the plight of missing children and his picture was the first of thousands to be put on milk cartons to help search for them.
Over the weekend, investigators may have made a major discovery. Police used chain saws to remove a chunk of wall from a basement in the boy's neighborhood that may finally answer the question of what happened to him.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick joins us now with the very latest.
So, that's a big question this morning, right, Deborah, is -- how long will it take to figure out what that is?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they've done is they removed a huge piece of dry wall that was in the basement. They're sending that to Quantico in order to be analyzed. It tested positive for the potential presence of blood. There's a certain chemical that when you sprayed it on, it suggested there is the possibility of blood.
One thing you have to remember about Etan Patz, is that anybody who lived in New York City at that time, it -- nobody will ever forget Etan Patz. He -- it was the first time he was walking to school. He was six years old. He was actually walking to the bus, which was two blocks from his home.
What makes this particular area that you see right there of particular interest to the FBI and also to police is that it was -- he would have had to have passed a workshop on his way to get to the bus stop. The basement of that workshop is right now being torn up. New concrete had been poured days after he went missing.
And so, right now, what the evidence team is doing is they're doing through dirt, they're looking at the concrete, they did a preliminary search. They spent most of Saturday doing that. They spent a good chunk of Sunday doing that.
Then, they sort of stopped. Nobody knows why they stopped the search. But they are beginning to continue there this morning.
I was actually down there, huge police presence this morning. But what they're going to do, they want to see whether there were perhaps any bones, any fragments, whether this is blood or it's not blood. They really want to rule it out.
But a new investigator had come on to the case. He went over all information. And this was sort of the one thing that was outstanding, this one shop that had a change immediately after Etan Patz disappeared. That's why it's so important.
SAMBOLIN: And the cadaver dog, right?
FEYERICK: And the cadaver dog got a positive hit. You don't know what that is. It could be, not a body. So, but again, they're looking. And it's really the last lead, a lot of people feel that.
SAMBOLIN: All right.
BANFIELD: Oh, that's hard to hear. Thanks.
SAMBOLIN: Deborah Feyerick, thank you.
FEYERICK: Of course.
SAMBOLIN: And still to come on EARLY START, a mistress, money, power and politics.
BANFIELD: Sounds like a good story.
SAMBOLIN: Well, it is. Former presidential candidate John Edwards on trial this morning. He faces decades in prison. Why some experts believe the government will have a very hard time proving its case.
BANFIELD: And the one that didn't get away. Look at that -- a young boy going up against a shark that's a whole lot bigger than he is. So did he reel in the big one? Look how cute.
You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: It is 13 minutes past the hour. Time to check stories that are making news this morning.
George Zimmerman, accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, he is now out of jail. That's him being released right there. Zimmerman was released from a Sanford, Florida, jail at around midnight after posting a $150,000 bail bond. He was fitted with an electronic monitoring device for authorities to keep track of him.
BANFIELD: Opening statements begin today in the trial for the man accused of killing the family of singer and actress Jennifer Hudson. She herself is expected to testify against the defendant. His name, William Belfour.
He's also the estranged husband of Jennifer Hudson's sister. He's accused of shooting her mother, her brother and her nephew in jealous rage. Belfour has pleaded not guilty.
SAMBOLIN: Heavy rain, driving winds and over a foot of snow expected in parts of the Northeast. Today, winter storm warnings and watches from the Appalachians in West Virginia, all the way to western New York. Many cities could be without power for days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, shark boy. Keep them up. Keep them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: All right, shark boy. Adorable. He strikes again. Hunter Stevens (ph) is just 9 years old but he's already a veteran shark fisherman. Hunter and his dad Kevin were fishing in their kayak -- yes, a kayak -- off the beach of Galveston, Texas.
This is when Hunter hooked the big one. A nice black tipped shark, in case you know your sharks. So, he got first for the season for him. He said, you should have seen the two others that got away -- which is often what I say when I come back from fishing. Should have seen the one that go away.
SAMBOLIN: Yes, all the ones that got away.
For an expanded look at our top stories, head to our blog, CNN.com/EarlyStart.
BANFIELD: And it is now 15 minutes past 5:00 on the East Coast. This is the case has it all -- power, sex, money, intrigue. It is not a fake, and it is not a fiction. It's former Senator John Edwards. And he's facing up to 30 years in prison as he goes on trial this morning in North Carolina.
Edwards is accused of using over $900,000 in campaign contributions for alleged illegal affairs. All of this to hide an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter and the daughter that he fathered with her. Their relationship taking place like Edwards wife Elizabeth Edwards was fighting an agonizing and ultimately losing battle with cancer.
CNN producer Raelyn Johnson is live in Greensboro, North Carolina.
According to the pre-trial brief, apparently, one of the arguments that Edwards' defense team is going to present is that the contributions were actually used by Andrew Young and his wife to build their $1.3 million dream house, not necessarily for Edwards' personal use.
What do you know about that?
RAELYN JOHNSON, CNN PRODUCER: Well, good morning, Ashleigh.
Let me tell you, the center of this case for the government is going to be Andrew Young. Now, John Edwards is going to paint him as a very sort of fan, a huge fan of John Edwards. What he's saying is that Andrew Young would have done anything to help John Edwards and essentially he did.
And what they're arguing is that Andrew Young received that money from Bunny Mellon and Fred Baron, nearly $9 million -- I'm sorry, nearly $900,000, nearly $1 million. And what he did with that money in addition to paying to help hide himself and Rielle Hunter who he said he was the father of their child, he used that money to hide in Florida, California, even Colorado.
And also, Edwards is saying he used some of that money to build a dream home, which I think is a little ironic because Edwards built a pretty big dream home himself. But, again, he used his own personal funds. He didn't use funds that came through his presidential campaign.
BANFIELD: So, Raelyn, one of the issues in this case has been right from the beginning, how salacious the details are. In fact, I believe if I remember correctly, the big break came from the "National Enquirer." And a lot of people know about it.
So, what is the challenge for the jurors to try to actually get beyond the sexy stuff and into the real nitty-gritty campaign finance issues?
JOHNSON: You know, I think the issue is that both sides think they have a black and white issue here, when really campaign finance law is very gray. And, you know, the other day the judge picked 42 potential jurors. Those jurors will be sat this morning.
But the issue still is that he's so well known and what the judge said from the beginning when she gave jury instructions was this -- you cannot judge John Edwards on whether he was a good husband or whether he was a good politician. And I think most of us agree that he failed on both fronts there.
But he's not on trial for his character. He's on trial for whether or not the campaign donations that came from Bunny Mellon and Fred Baron, if those are considered illegal campaign contributions because they were used to further propel his presidential campaign.
Now, the government says that those contributions are illegal, and the reason they are illegal is because they help him continue running for president. John Edwards however says these were personal donations, they would have happened whether he was running for president or not.
BANFIELD: Well, I think, I suppose all eyes will be on that courtroom, not necessarily from the get-go but certainly when Rielle Hunter testifies which she is planning to do with immunity.
All right. Thank you, Raelyn. Appreciate that.
SAMBOLIN: Eighteen minutes past the hour.
And we're getting an early read on local news making national headlines. This morning, we have papers from New York, Arizona, New Jersey, all over the place.
So, we're going to start with the "New York Times."
A junior FBI agent played a critical role in cracking a potential new lead in the Etan Patz missing person's case. Agent Thomas McDonald was handed Patz's case over five years ago. And what did he do, he re-examined it from scratch. An official says, quote, "He took to heart that this little boy has been missing for so long and his family doesn't know what happened to him."
McDonald initially faced resistance from the family who had enough of new investigators over the years, especially the mom in this case. The new search for evidence led McDonald to consider Othneil Miller, a neighborhood handy man who knew Etan and saw him a day before the disappearance. Miller put a new floor of concrete into his work space right after Etan disappeared. McDonald believed Miller, quote, "had something to answer for."
BANFIELD: You know, it's difficult. They said apparently that it would have taken about $1,000 back in the '70s to chip away that brand new concrete floor and actually do the investigation then but that was to expensive.
SAMBOLIN: Well, you know what? Ten years ago, they went there and the guy said to them, this handy man, hey, if you want to tear up the concrete, go ahead, at your expense. That is just 10 years ago.
SAMBOLIN: And they didn't at that time. So, they must have something.
BANFIELD: You know what's amazing, though, whenever you get a fresh set of eyes on an investigation, everything changes.
SAMBOLIN: You never know.
BANFIELD: They see something from a very different perspective.
All right. Let's get to Arizona. "The Arizona Republic" has a story about the anniversary today. Happy anniversary to SB-1070. Do you know that one?
You do if you saw these pictures. It's that immigration law that were so controversial in the state of Arizona. And it's being really heavily talked about because on its anniversary, just two days from now, the Supreme Court is going to hear oral arguments fighting that law.
The new law (AUDIO GAP) part about it, is that even though, you know, particular parts of it were blocked by a federal judge, it doesn't have a lot of teeth. Immigration is actually down, illegal immigration is actually down.
We don't expect to hear anything from the Supreme Court on this until summer. So, don't hold your breath right away. But whatever does the Supreme Court does decide to do, get ready other states. About 20 other states that have enacted similar laws or at least tried to anyway, five in particular have passed these.
So, it is odd to know that the numbers are down and the teeth that these protesters have had, they've actually made an effect. They've had an effect. It's not as popular as it was before.
Apparently, we can tell you that the illegal immigrant population has shrunk by parentally between 200,000 or so from the years 2008 to 2011. Experts say a loss of state money and social services and cost and fewer illegal immigrants helps to increase wages for other workers.
One the big lobbies, though, really interesting in this, companies who actually want illegal immigrants because they're less expensive.
SAMBOLIN: Oh, yes. A lot of jobs --
BANFIELD: Yes, absolutely.
SAMBOLIN: "The Star Ledger" based in Newark, New Jersey now. It is the end of an ear. The Nets' 35-year run in New Jersey is coming to an end. The Nets play their last regular season home game tonight against Philadelphia. The nets are moving to Brooklyn.
So, will the New Jersey fans follow? Old fans say that they face longer distances to the games, about 12.5 miles, inflated ticket prices as well. They say it's going to take an hour to get there. I don't think so.
One fan says over the last two years, he and his brother spent $2,500 on a half season ticket plan. That same arrangement could cost them $10,000 in Brooklyn.
Another fan says this is hard. It's kind of like high school graduation. You're sad but you know something bigger is coming.
I know something bigger is coming because they're not doing very well.
BANFIELD: I don't know a lot about sports, but here's what I don't get. New York teams play in New Jersey and now New Jersey teams are going to play in New York. It's cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. I don't get it.
SAMBOLIN: It's a long commute. I feel really terrible for those folks who are die-hard fans.
SAMBOLIN: You know, that's a tough one here.
BANFIELD: Well, shorter commute for the New York fans. So, maybe there will be some New York fans that jump on board.
Twenty-two minutes now past 5:00 on the East Coast.
And coming up on EARLY START: Wal-Mart, having a tough one on this one, allegedly wrapped up in a big old bribery scandal. How the giant retailer may have broken U.S. laws to try to beat out the competition.
SAMBOLIN: It is 26 minutes past the hour. We are minding your business this morning.
U.S. markets closing mix on Friday. The Dow and S&P 500 both making gains on Friday and the tech heavy NASDAQ down less than a quarter of a percent.
And this morning, U.S. stock futures are down so far after a new report out overnight shows more signs that China's economy is slowing down, which has ripple effects to countries worldwide.
BANFIELD: Wal-Mart could be in some pretty hot water over allegations that it violated international bribery laws in Mexico, with bribes amounting to -- ready for this -- $24 million. "New York Times" is reporting this story. And they first had it over the weekend. The bribes were allegedly for speeding up the store construction at a subsidiary in Mexico, all of this to expand quicker and squash the competition there.
Wal-Mart says it's investigating these claims. CNN has not independent by confirmed "The New York Times" report.
SAMBOLIN: And up next on EARLY START: Iran claims it has unraveled the code from a U.S. drone that went down last year. We'll ask retired Army General James "Spider" Marks if U.S. intelligence may have been compromised.
BANFIELD: And also, the search for Etan Patz, a possible clue 33 years after the first milk carton boy vanished.
You're watching EARLY START.
BANFIELD: It is now 30 minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.
SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It's time to check the stories that are making news this morning.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): George Zimmerman no longer behind bars and in hiding. The man who shot Trayvon Martin to death in Florida makes bail and is out of jail this morning.
BANFIELD (voice-over): The family of Etan Patz is awaiting results of an FBI investigation 33 years after their six-year-old son disappeared. A possible new clue removed from the basement of a New York City building over the weekend. A stain that could be blood.
SAMBOLIN: Iran says it has cracked the code of a captured U.S. spy drone. The surveillance plane was packed with top secret technology. We will ask on expert whether this development poses a threat to American military personnel overseas. BANFIELD: And call it a sign of the times. A job hunter thinks big, and we mean really big, in terms of getting his name in front of potential employers to see how far some people plan to go. I love this. To get their career back on track during tough economic times.
SAMBOLIN: Sometime you have to make an investment.
BANFIELD: Heck yes.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Thirty-one minutes past the hour. In case you are wondering what happened to winter? A dangerous storm is targeting the northeast right now. It is triggering winter storm watches and warnings from West Virginia all the way to southwest New York.
Here's a look from Dubois, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. This video shot within the hour with the flakes falling but not sticking to the pavement, at least, not yet. Meteorologist, Rob Marciano, is tracking this incredible storm, and he joins us now live from the weather center. This is kind of kooky and crazy, isn't it?
ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. And you know, you mentioned, it's not sticking in the payment, but the last shot that we showed was it sticking to the trees. And the key is, just like the storm we had -- the last snowstorm we had which was in October pretty much, leaves are on the trees.
Back then, it was because of fall, this time, an early spring. Full foliage. So, that's going to be the key is the weight of the wet snow taking down tree limbs, and in some cases, entire trees, knocking out power, maybe even blocking some roadways. New York to Providence to Boston, you're not going to get any of this, although, you're getting some -- you have the rain already, and you're going to get some wind.
That will continue. It's a big storm as far as that is concern. The snows are starting to fall interior parts of Western New York and Western Pennsylvania. Temperatures are right around the freezing mark, Binghamton 34 degrees, 35 degrees in state college, almost 40 in Pittsburgh and just around the freezing mark across the Pennsylvania and New York border.
So, that's why temperatures are -- it's not quite sticking to the roadways just yet, but eight to 16 inches of snow possible and to points south and east of Buffalo and certainly to the north and east of Pittsburgh at the higher elevations. So, that coupled with the weight and the wind, with winds gusting 30 to 40 miles an hour, that's going to make for a dangerous situation.
We've, obviously, had some rainfall, in some cases, a couple of inches of rainfall already falling. So, flood watches have been posted for some of this part of the world. Beautiful, warm temperatures across the Rocky Mountains. So, the Appalachians now getting it as we try to get rid of what was a mundane winter, but we're certainly book ending it with two big winter storms.
SAMBOLIN: We're going to have a travel mess, aren't we?
MARCIANO: Yes. And you know, it's not snowing. It's going to be very, very windy. So, the bigger airports along the I-95 border will have delays just because of the winds, and the winds will continue right through tomorrow morning.
SAMBOLIN: I guess, everybody suffered. Rob Marciano, thank you so much. We'll check in with you again.
MARCIANO: Sounds good.
BANFIELD: Thirty-four minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast and the search for a clue that could crack a decade's old mystery of Etan Patz. It's expected to resume this morning here in New York this morning. Investigators having called off the search yesterday due to inclimate weather, but not before finding a, quote, "stain of interest" that tested positive for organic material, possibly blood.
A section of the wall where the stain was found was taken to an FBI lab in quantico, Virginia for further testing. Six-year-old Etan vanished 33 years ago from New York's Sojo neighborhood, near the basement that being torn apart, actually, just half of block away. He was the nation's first milk carton boy.
The building is the former workplace of a local handyman name Othniel Miller who made contact with Etan shortly before he vanished. Miller has been questioned by law enforcement but has not been charged in this case. His daughter, Stephanie, spoke to reporters yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE MILLER, DAUGHTER OF OTHNIEL MILLER: The FBI has been here to investigate the case. He cooperated with them, went to the site, and he doesn't have anything to do with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: We're joined now by Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky who is the forensic scientist who was at the scene of the investigation on Friday. Larry, you had a chance to go down there. It's swarming with reporters, with people from the FBI, New York local investigators, as well. It's quite remarkable to see this 33 years after the fact.
DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: It was a huge number of resources being thrown into this case. It shows you that this case is still alive in the minds, not only the public, but certainly, of law enforcement.
BANFIELD: So, still alive in the minds. Now, I want to talk about the nitty-gritty, all the CSI, because what they're doing in that basement involves evidence that could be three decades old. This is your area of expertise. How good could that evidence possibly be if there is any?
KOBILINSKY: Well, first of all if we're looking for DNA, DNA is one of the most stable molecules. After 33 years, it should still be intact, and we should still be able to use it for human identification.
BANFIELD: Even if it's been walked over, brushed over, painted over.
KOBILINSKY: I think there are some issues, some environmental factors can destroy DNA in a moist environment. Bacteria can break down. This molecule soil will degrade the molecule. But, essentially if there's a skeleton, they can obtain might mitochondrial DNA which will help establish the identity of the body.
BANFIELD: So, the different between regular DNA that most people understand and then mitochondrial is --
KOBILINSKY: Yes. Mitochondrial DNA is present in so many more copies than nuclear. In other words, you stand a better chance of getting a result. And with soft tissue gone, you have bone. Bone has a substantial amount of mitochondrial DNA. It's related maternally to the individual. So that, for example, checking his mother, Etan's mother, Julie, you can then see if there's a match or not, and then, focus on Etan.
BANFIELD: You and I covered the Casey Anthony case together. You were actually part of the Casey Anthony case on defense team for a while.
BANFIELD: And one of the issues in Casey Anthony's child's death was that she was in a swamp. And she was so far decomposed that they couldn't get a cause of death on that.
BANFIELD: But they could determine it was the child.
BANFIELD: In this particular case, if they just find skeletal remains, they can determine that it's the child.
KOBILINSKY: Yes, in a number of ways. Certainly, the anthropologists at the scene will be able to determine the height, the gender, the ethnicity, there's a lot of information just from a physical examination of the bones. There's going to be an autopsy if they do find bones, but ultimately, it will be DNA.
BANFIELD: You can autopsy just bone fragments?
KOBILINSKY: You have to. You have to.
BANFIELD: Just fragments? KOBILINSKY: TAs was done in the Casey Anthony case. Yes, fragments, they need to be examined, because, look, you might find a tool mark which would tell us the child was stab or you might find the hyoid bone broken, which would tell us the boy was strangled.
BANFIELD: That was my next question. They just find bones. Can they find the cause of the death. In Casey Anthony's child's case, they could not find a cause of death.
KOBILINSKY: They could not. But here, if you find a fractured skull, you might say blunt trauma here. We really don't know for sure because we don't know whether we're going to find a skull or not, but if do, there may be a lot of information there that most people aren't expected.
BANFIELD: I remember you and I also covered a case together where there was a skeleton, a skeletal remain and what you just mentioned, a tool mark was found in the bone and they matched that tool mark to an actual murder weapon. It was a dagger.
BANFIELD: So, that's something that can connect someone to an actual murder weapon and a crime.
KOBILINSKY: For sure. And for all we know, besides a body, they may be looking for a weapon that may be something buried at that site. They used ground-penetrating radar to determine if there was any weapon or skeletal remains.
BANFIELD: Let me get to the luminal, because it's also been a lot of court rooms together where luminal is terrific in terms of the detectives being able to check something out, but then, you get into a court of law and you always -- I mean, so frequently you hear presumptive, not conclusive.
KOBILINSKY: Absolutely. Luminal, first of all, is a presumptive test for blood. It's used because you can spray large areas, and in that way, determine if blood might be present, but the operative word is might, because there are other things that will give you a false positive. There's another chemical which, perhaps, the FBI is using called blue star, which is more specific than luminal.
It's a luminal-like chemical, and it will give you results. It gill glow. It gives off what we call a chemiluminescence if blood is present. But, even if it were positive, even if it were blood, we don't know it's human.
BANFIELD: And we're not going to be able to tell that.
KOBILINSKY: We will not be able to tell, unless, we can do DNA, then we'll know, because DNA only works on human or primate DNA.
BANFIELD: But not other animals?
KOBILINSKY: That's correct. BANFIELD: There's so much more we can talk about. You'll have to come back on that.
KOBILINSKY: I promise.
BANFIELD: Especially as we continue to see what happened. They're resuming the search today.
BANFIELD: Lawrence Kobilinsky, Dr. Kobilinsky, it's good to see you. Thank you.
KOBILINSKY: Thank you. Pleasure, Ashleigh.
SAMBOLIN: Forty minutes past the hour. Meteor shower is usually a spectacular sight to see, but one out west was seen and it was heard. People from Northern California to Nevada reported hearing a loud boom yesterday morning. That sound occurred at the same time as a meteor shower that happens every year on the same day.
Some thought it was a satellite or some other space junk falling to earth. Others had no idea what it was.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was enough to shock me into, man, what was that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a big boom. It sounded like my daughter fell out of bed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of felt it, didn't you? Almost like felt something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: Wow. Well, astronomers estimate the meteorite that made the noise was probably about the size of a washing machine when it struck the earth's atmosphere.
And it's 40 minutes past the hour. Ahead on EARLY START, cracking the code. Iran claims to have inside knowledge from a captured U.S. military drone. We'll ask an expert what is at stake.
SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. It is 44 minutes past the hour.
Iran says it's cracked the technology inside the top secret U.S. drone. And that they're making a copy of their own now. Iran claims it extracted data that allowed it to pinpoint some of the exact dates and locations where this drone flew, including a mission over Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan just two weeks before he was killed. The drone went down last December in Iran. It is called the RQ- 170 sentinel, a stealth surveillance drone, presumably loaded with top-secret technology. So, what's at stake here. Let's bring in retired general James "Spider" Marks. He is a CNN contributor. Thank you for being with us this morning.
So, Iran says that it has reversed engineered, and they're actually throwing out details of information that they have extracted. Are you concerned about this?
GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, U.S. ARMY (ret.): Well, we should be concerned about it, and certainly, the United States is, specifically, the intelligence community is concerned about it, but it really is a matter of what are the near-term risks and what are the long-term risks. And, we have to assume at this point that Iran has -- that the compromise of that drone is complete.
In other words, they've taken it all apart. They've laid out all the parts. They've looked at it. They've tried to look into the engineering and the software that's been used, and clearly, they've indicated that there are certain pieces of information that would reveal to us that they've probably done a pretty good job.
But the real issue is, what does that mean for the United States? What does that mean in terms of intelligence, collection and the use of this? There's really no immediate threat to the United States or forces deploy or possibly even the ability of the United States to use this system for, you know, further intelligence collection.
But, what we have to assume is that Iran will continue to work on that and certainly will get the help of other nations to do a full exploitation and then to really kind of get into the manufacturing of some of the pieces. You know, Zoraida, the fact that they said --
SAMBOLIN: Are you worried about the reverse engineering at all?
MARKS: Oh, sure, sure. The point is, is that they can pick apart different pieces of this drone and the fact that they might produce a drone of their own is not a concern at all at this point. Certainly, they'll get some stealth technology out of it. They'll probably get a lot of information in terms of how we listen in on various types of communications.
That's the signals intelligence, package it's there. The optics that are used that make it for very precise targeting. That's imagery intelligence that's available, but none of that is an immediate threat to us. There will be countermeasures that we will try to use to try to get around some of that or we might try to enhance our abilities now that they have that technology.
And as I said, we have to assume that their grasp of that technology is full, but there are risks near term and long term.
SAMBOLIN: What worries you most?
MARKS: The most important thing to me is what is Iran going to do with this technology that would immediately give them a capability that we wouldn't possibly know about. And that might be, they could institute possibly a countermeasure to our collection capabilities, again, whether that signals intelligence or if it's some other type of intelligence collection package that wouldn't necessarily allow us to complete an intelligence mission.
So, their countermeasures might be something that we need to look at very, very closely.
SAMBOLIN: Does it concern you at all that Iran says Russia and China have asked for the info on the drone.
MARKS: No, not at all. And I'm sure the Pakistanis are involved on this, as well.
SAMBOLIN: All right. Gen. Spider Marks, thank you for joining us this morning. We appreciate your perspective as usual.
MARKS: Thank you, Zoraida.
SAMBOLIN: Ashleigh, back to you.
BANFIELD: All right. Thanks very much. It's now 47 minutes past the hour. Time to check news making top billing in our headlines this morning.
BANFIELD (voice-over): Freedom for the accused murderer of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman released from jail overnight in Sanford, Florida. His destination being kept a secret for his own safety as he awaits trial on second-degree murder charges.
Former senator, John Edwards, facing six charges of campaign finance violations when his trial begins this morning in North Carolina. Prosecutors say he used over $900,000 in illegal contributions to cover up an extramarital affair. He faces up to 30 years behind bars.
The Army is canceling a Ted Nugent concert after his controversial remarks about President Obama. The rocker was scheduled to be the opening act at Ft. Knox in Kentucky. But commanders booted him from the show after Nugent he said he'd be, quote, "dead or in jail if Obama was re-elected." The Motor City rocker's comments came at a national Rifle Association Convention.
And desperate times call for desperate measures. Bennett Olson lost his job in March and had received no response from any perspective employers despite sending out dozens and dozens of resumes. So, here's what he did. Hire me.
He was a laid off casino worker, and he did a big gamble, a $300 electronic billboard ad next to a highway in Minneapolis. His smiling face and his name flashed in front of drivers for eight seconds at a time over the course of 24 hours last week.
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BENNETT OLSON, JOB SEEKER: I was just trying to think of ideas to set myself apart from other people and hear myself out there and maybe try to capture the attention of somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Well, no job offers yet, but now, you're on CNN. So, that $300 paid very well. And by the way, vice president of a laser tech company has e-mailed Bennett that he does want to talk to him. So good job, Bennett.
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): You never know.
BANFIELD: Good for you. Hope it works out for you, buddy.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): It is 49 minutes past the hour. Still ahead, a prom queen's sick joke. Ending up in jail after allegedly convincing her town that she was dying. Boy, do we have details on this for you. You're watching EARLY START.
SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. Time to take a look at what is trending on web. Listen to this one. Police arresting a Texas prom queen for allegedly faking cancer and scamming people out of $17,000.
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SAMBOLIN (voice-over): There she is. She looks so innocent.
BANFIELD: Smile for your mug shot, sister.
SAMBOLIN: According to the "El Paso Times," 19-year-old Angie Gomez (ph) told her family, her friends, and her fiance that she had six months to live. This was back in 2011 after battling leukemia since childhood. She even set up her own charity foundation called Achieve the Dream.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Gomez claimed the illness forced her to miss her senior prom, so the high school held another one just for her. Someone called police complaining that she didn't seem to be sick, and they investigated. She was put in jail with bond set at $50,000.
BANFIELD (on-camera): So, we'll reserve judgment until the judge decides what is going to happen or a jury in that case. But, oh boy, oh boy, hope, she's got a good lawyer.
SAMBOLIN: She needs help.
SAMBOLIN: The child needs help.
BANFIELD: So, who knew that world peace could be this painful? I'm not sure if you saw this video?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD (voice-over): But the man known as Metta World Peace, nice basket, but watch your screen -- oh, what was that? Did you watch? Did you see it? It was tough to find, but that was the result of Metta World Peace's nice elbow job. If you're wondering --
SAMBOLIN (voice-over): What, what, I didn't do anything. What?
BANFIELD: What? I didn't do anything. Oh, well, yes, you did. Watch. Watch what happened. Look closely. Look closely. Watch the elbow. Watch the elbow. Bang. Metta world what? Ron Artest, when you changed your name to Metta World Peace, we didn't expect you'd be doing this. Now, that wasn't friendly at all, was it?
He was tossed for what's called a flagrant foul. The league is out reviewing that blow. Poor Mr. Harden was down for at least a minute trying to recover from that blow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD (on-camera): Ron Artest/Metta World Peace apologized saying, I'm only celebrating after a dunk. It wasn't intentional.
SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And they say that basketball is not as dangerous as football. Did you see his head?
BANFIELD: Did you see him back in 2004 when he ran up into the stands and started slugging out a fan back in -- watch this. Back in Detroit. Look at him, up he goes, and he kicks it out on a fan. Faschizel (ph), what up? Come on. He attacked the guy. And you no what -- yes, we all remember this.
SAMBOLIN: Nice big suspension should be headed his way.
BANFIELD: Guess how many games? He was out for 86 games after this. And then after, I don't know whether he changed his name to Metta World Peace after this mess.
BANFIELD: Because that was his name then, Ron Artest. Anyway, turned out it wasn't so peaceful.
BANFIELD: So, we'll see how he weathers this storm.
SAMBOLIN: Wyclef Jean wearing a hoodie and singing about Trayvon Martin in a new music video that is now going viral on YouTube. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(singing) If you're 17 and wearing a hoodie, you're on the phone talking to your shorty, make no mistake there's one like you in every city. You know the story. They're going to creep up from behind. Have you leave Earth before your time? By the time oh, for sure he was going to say he was so scared that he shot you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SAMBOLIN: The song is called "Justice if you're 17." The video shows, as you can see, a teenager in a hoodie talking to his girlfriend on the phone, reenacting the event that allegedly happened in the minutes before George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. The song is being offered as a free download. I was going to ask about that.
BANFIELD: Yes. And there you go.
Fifty-six minutes now past 5:00 on the east coast.
And still ahead on EARLY START, a big development overnight in that case, the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Look at that, George Zimmerman walking out of jail after midnight, carrying a paper bag. No one knows where he's headed, though, and that's for his safety.
SAMBOLIN: And could this weather get any stranger? I called it kooky (ph). A powerful storm hitting the northeast with more than a foot of snow expected in some places before it's over. We were just basking in the sun recently. You are watching EARLY START.