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CNN NEWSROOM

Ex-Cop Hiding Under Nose of Law; Carnival Ship 150 Miles From Port; Obama's State of the Union; Convict Escapes In Shackles & Handcuffs

Aired February 13, 2013 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: CNN NEWSROOM continues right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Homestretch. The nightmare cruise is getting closer to shore. The next 24 hours could be the worst yet.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

The hunt for a fugitive ends in flames. We're going inside Chris Dorner's final moments.

Plus --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK NICHOLSON, ACTOR: I got an informer in my outfit (ph).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: He inspired a Jack Nicholson character. And today, one of America's most notorious gangsters, tells a judge why he should be let off the hook.

And, a student sues for a mediocre grade. My hot topics panel weighs in.

Good to see you. I'm Brooke Baldwin live in the CNN world headquarters.

California's largest manhunt is over. A killer ex-cop all but confirmed dead after that frantic last bid to escape that ended in fire and a hail of bullets. Here's how it all went down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guy's down!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So it turns out Christopher Dorner, already accused of three revenge killings, was hiding almost under the nose of the law. His demise all started with a single phone call from two women he tied up in a cabin. Then fish and game wardens spotted Dorner driving their car a short time later, but they lost him. Meantime, Dorner was hijacking a pickup truck. Listen to the victim. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK HELTEBRAKE, TRUCK HIJACKED BY CHRISTOPHER DORNER: He came up to me with his gun pointed at me. And I stopped my truck, put it in park, raised my hands. And he said, I don't want to hurt you, just get out and start walking up the road and take your dog, which is what I did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Dorner then shot it out with the wardens before crashing that truck, taking refuge in this cabin where the manhunt came to a head with a gun battle. Reporter Carter Evans from one of our L.A. affiliates, just so happened to be yards away, recorded the whole thing on his cell phone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, you, come here!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, come here! Get over here!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), get out of here now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), officer down. Officer down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Copy, officer down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Medic ship's in the air. Medic ship's in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), officer down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Dorner killed one officer, wounded another. I want you to listen here just to some of the police scanner traffic recorded just before this cabin here -- you see it -- before it caught fire.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) burn it down. (INAUDIBLE). OK (ph), now (ph) shoot the gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) burning gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Burning gas. Burning gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Miguel Marquez live for me in Big Bear right now. And so, Miguel, we know a charred body was found inside. It has not been positively identified as Dorner. Do we know how long that process will take?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, given the high profile nature of this, I'm guessing not long. We have a 4:00 p.m. local, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, press conference with San Bernardino's Sheriff's Office down in San Bernardino. We're expecting more information then.

It's not clear how much of the body was left. There are reports here locally that his wallet was found in there, along with his driver's license. So it's pretty clear. And every official we speak to, at least privately, will say they have their man. Certainly everything in terms of searching for Dorner has stopped here in San Bernardino and up on Big Bear.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about some of the radio traffic we just played. Talking about burning gas. Burn it down. Do we know, Miguel, any more today about how the cabin caught fire?

MARQUEZ: We don't. It is possible that Mr. Dorner set the fire himself. We do know that he had thrown out a gas canister or a smoke grenade at one point, apparently trying to create a diversion. Authorities then went in with their own, it sounds like, either they were going to put gas in there, CS gas, or tear gas. And they may have used other sorts of grenades as well. That could have set it off. There was a lot of gunfire as well. The gunfire could have set it off. Those bullets create a lot of heat going into the cabin. It's not clear how it got started. But that's one thing that we also hope to hear from San Bernardino Sheriff's Office.

Brooke.

BALDWIN: Miguel Marquez all over this story for us in southern California. Miguel, we appreciate it.

And make sure you turn into "AC 360" tonight. Anderson will be devoting the entire hour to this manhunt and to the final shootout and the fire there at that cabin. "AC 360" tonight, 8:00 Eastern.

Meantime, how about those 4,200 people still stranded onboard that crippled cruise ship? They are now, though, at least, one day away from freedom. Family are already waiting at that port in Mobile, Alabama, where this Carnival Cruise ship is expected to arrive sometime tomorrow afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM MCKERREGHAN, PASSENGER'S MOM: He says that the conditions have gotten so bad that they're asking them to use the restroom in bags and they were eating onion sandwiches. And that was on Monday, you know. And I haven't heard anything since. I've just been following the news feed and that they were going to be here in Mobile, Alabama. And so I was going to be here a day early and not two minutes later when that boat arrived.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Onion sandwiches, she says.

Keep in mind, this cruise left Galveston, Texas, last Thursday. Fast- forward to Sunday. The ship was about 150 miles off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when that fire started in the engine room. And that is what triggered this chain of events which took this from a luxury four-day vacation to what's now being described as a disgusting cruise from hell.

First, the primary power source went down. The water mains, crippled. Plumbing systems, paralyzed. This boat was adrift, running only on backup power. And David Mattingly has more now on the problems plaguing the Carnival Triumph.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's no exaggeration to say this cruise to paradise has turned into a cruise through hell.

ANN BARLOW, ABOARD THE CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (voice-over): (INAUDIBLE) sewage, raw sewage. Pretty bad. When you walk in the hallway, you have to cover your face. We don't have any masks for breathing. It's disgusting.

MATTINGLY: Sunday's fire, which disabled the cruise ship's engines, also knocked out many of the cabin toilets, the hot water, and the air conditioning.

DONNA GUTZMAN, ABOARD THE CARNIVAL TRIUMPH (voice-over): The rooms are very hot unless you have a balcony room and then you can kind of get air and light. But if you have an interior room, like mine, it's pretty dark in there and it's very stuffy, especially if someone used your bathroom.

MATTINGLY: Of more than 3,100 passengers, many are sleeping outside on mattresses and deck chairs. As for food --

BARLOW: Cold cuts, fruit, bread, box of cereal, and water and sodas. And they just opened the bar to give people free beer and wine. There's only really a couple of lines. It takes three and a half hours to get your food.

MATTINGLY: Fresh food's being brought aboard from other cruise ships. Two tug boats are towing the disabled liner to Mobile, Alabama. But at a whopping seven miles an hour, it will take until late Wednesday or Thursday. Meanwhile, the crew are doing what they can.

GUTZMAN: We're not having as much fun as what we had planned, but everyone seems to be doing OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MATTINGLY: And, Brooke, we're hearing now from the Carnival officials, that they are canceling all the cruises from the Triumph, this ship that's now coming in here, the next 12 cruises. Meaning, there won't be any more passengers going onboard that boat, once it gets here to Mobile, at least until April.

BALDWIN: Yes, I heard in your piece, free beer and wine. Yes, I don't know if that's going to cut it. David Mattingly, thank you so much, for me in Mobile.

And, by the way, we will be covering this story live tomorrow afternoon when the ship arrives in Mobile, Alabama.

And now to some of the hottest stories in a flash. We call it "Rapid Fire." Roll it.

Pope Benedict presided over his last Ash Wednesday service today. This was his first public appearance since announcing his plans to resign at the end of the month. Speaking earlier to those gathered in a Vatican City audience hall, the pope explained what was behind his decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPE BENEDICT (through translator): I having examined before God my conscience, fully aware of the gravity and seriousness of such acts, but also aware that it is not adequate for me to continue if I don't have the strength that it requires.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Pope Benedict's final day as pope is February 28th.

And accused Boston gangster Whitey Bulger says he got immunity to commit crimes and kill people while he was an FBI informant. A judge is hearing arguments on Bulger's immunity claim today as 83-year-old Bulger wants to use it as his defense in his upcoming trial on a racketeering indictment accusing him of participating in 19 different murders. Prosecutors say Bulger's immunity claim is here, and I'm quoting them, "absurd." Stay with me. Next hour I'll talk live with the guy who is co-writing Bulger's biography, including all these new details about his years on the run. Don't miss it.

Now this.

(VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Lady Gaga, she's got some moves there. Apparently not so much right now. She's canceling several concerts because of an injury, specifically severe inflammation of the joints. The pop star says she's been hiding the injury for a while and at one point could barely walk. We're told she will be out a week and will have to reschedule those concerts.

Steven Spielberg's Academy Award winning movie "Lincoln" will now be available in every middle and high school in America.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stage now. The fate of human dignity in our hands. Blood's been spilled to afford us this moment. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Disney is sending schools a free DVD of the movie, along with a teaching guide. Spielberg says he got a bunch of letters from teachers asking to please use the film in their classroom. This as some lawmakers say there are some factual errors.

The son of basketball great Larry Bird arrested for allegedly trying to run over his ex-girlfriend with a car. Indiana University Police charged 21-year-old Conner Bird with intimidation with a deadly weapon, battery with injury and marijuana possession. Police say it happened after the two got in some sort of fight. The woman got out of the car to try to walk home.

Wall Street on market watch as the Dow, take a look here, flirting with 14,000 again. Just shy of that. Still a couple of points away from that all time high. Remember, that was set back in October of '07. We will keep an eye on the number for you as we are less than two hours away from the closing bell.

And just hours after pushing for a higher minimum wage, and affordable pre-k, the president hits the road today to sell his plan, but not everyone is buying. My panel weighs in.

Plus, a graduate student files a lawsuit over a c plus, saying that grade, and I'm quoting, "ruined her life." We're going to hear the student's side just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: One day here after the State of the Union, the president is hitting the road. Today, headed to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Once again, his focus, America's middle class.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our middle class, when it's growing, when it's thriving, when there are ladders of opportunity for people to do a little bit better each year and then make sure that their kids are doing even better than them, that's the American dream. That's what we got to fight for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That is the president today. And here he is last night. Take a look. The entrance to the State of the Union. He comes through. Watch for it, right hand, boom, fist pump. That is the president greeting Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk, recently back from a stroke. Last night, a long list of what the president wants to accomplish, starting with a proposal for a job creating, bridge fixing brigade. Look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, I propose a fix it first program to put people to work -- Tonight, I ask Congress to change the higher education act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid.

Those working with states to make high quality preschool available to every single child in America.

Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.

I'm also issuing a new goal for America. Let's cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next 20 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Amy Holmes is with me. She's an anchor for Glenn Beck's network "The Blaze." Also there in the middle, Patricia Murphy, contributor for thedailybeast.com. And Rick Newman, chief business correspondent for "U.S. News and World Report."

Welcome to all of you. Obviously, you know, we heard the president sort of tick off this list, if you will. A broad -- you know, a lot of adjectives thrown out today -- ambitious State of the Union speech.

Patricia Murphy, is the re-elected Barack Obama perhaps overreaching?

PATRICIA MURPHY, CONTRIBUTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Well, you know, I think it obviously depends on where you're coming from. If you look at what he was talking about, these are actually kind of a series of smaller initiatives, universal pre-k, the -- talking about the minimum wage. These are things that are actually relatively targeted, relatively narrow. I think some of his more liberal counterparts would like to see him go a little bit bigger and bolder. I don't think it was an overreach. I do think, though, it doesn't quite add up. There is no money left in the federal budget for a lot of these new initiatives. I think that's where his biggest problem was with that speech.

BALDWIN: He says it won't raise the deficit.

Amy Holmes, some say ambitious. You say --

AMY HOLMES, ANCHOR, "THE BLAZE": I agree with Patricia that last night's State of the Union was surprisingly modest. It was part George Jetson, this vision of the future where our cars don't run on gas anymore, but he didn't actually have any specific proposal on how to accomplish that other than, we'll study it. He talked about an energy security trust led up by CEOs and military folks.

You actually heard a lot of that last night of really big ideas, followed up by pretty modest proposals. Even his suggestion about looking at voting rights. Again, what was his solution? To get a couple of campaign lawyer together over whiskey and cigars to try to, you know, work something out.

You saw -- you heard some old school liberal ideas, the minimum wage, the pre-k idea and, frankly, I would sort of predict that Republicans will end up passing the minimum wage. They have in the past. But I don't think you heard really a lot of meat on those bones of the State of the Union last night.

BALDWIN: Interesting you say modest, but with the George Jetson, you know, inference here, I'm thinking maybe not so much realistic thus far. I don't know if Elroy's in the White House anytime soon.

But, you know, one of the president's many proposals, we heard him say it, is affordable pre-k for every child in America. So we pulled some numbers here. So look at these with me. This is 2011. State funding for pre-k programs went down $60 million. Do the math. It's $145 less per child nationwide. Barely one fourth of four-year-olds were enrolled in pre-k. And 11 states, right here, no help at all for pre- k.

Amy Holmes, let me come back to you here. The president is saying, work with the states. Let's boost pre-k. Why not?

HOLMES: Well, you could argue, is this really the role of the federal government? Education is actually supposed to be handled at the state level. And as far as pre-k goes, you're also talking about working mothers and a way for this to really be sort of government -- government run day care, which has long been a goal, particularly of the feminist left. So I think that that was thrown out for them. That little, you know, small little morsel of red meat. But I don't think you're going to hear Republicans necessarily coming to the table to spend more federal dollars on what should really be a state issue.

BALDWIN: Rick Newman, what do you think, within a couple of years, every four-year-old would have access to preschool? Plausible?

RICK NEWMAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I'm wondering why Obama picked that? I mean you can identify shortcomings in the education system at every grade level all the way up to college. So he sort of picked the lowest level, pre-k, and the highest level, college, when he talked about affordability. So I -- he sort of bracketed the education system there. But again, these are ideas that don't have any funding attached to them right now. And he kind of said, well, you'll see the details when my budget goes up to The Hill in a couple of weeks. But I think these are going to be like a lot of other Obama proposals, they sound kind of interesting in theory but there's just not much support that's going to materialize on Capitol Hill.

BALDWIN: OK. Finally, excuse me for a minute. Water-gate 2.0, guys. Senator Marco Rubio, right, he provided the Republican response. Sorry to say, Marco Rubio, this is the one thing, guilty as charged, people are talking about today.

HOLMES: Oh, my gosh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Nothing has frustrated me more than false choices like the one the president laid out tonight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, here he goes, live on TV. Bottoms up. Wets the whistle. You know, what's he thinking? Let's just do it again.

NEWMAN: Unfortunately, he didn't have a CNN mug.

BALDWIN: Didn't have a CNN mug. I -- it just so happens we should have provided it for him. Anyhow, Patricia Murphy, let me just begin with you. I mean here he is, rising Republican, it's just -- it's just kind of silly.

MURPHY: Well, it is -- it is and it isn't, actually. I think any -- somebody who is more seasoned and who's used to delivering major speeches at major times would not have gone for the water. I think really Rubio is such a bright, shining light for the Republican Party, but it just feels a little too soon, and last night it looked way too soon. That was just such an amateur mistake and it -- I think it really stepped all over his message, which would have been good if it wasn't marred by his performance there.

BALDWIN: Amy, after Bobby Jindal, I mean, what do these Republicans need to do to get this right?

HOLMES: Well, I was going to say, it was an improvement over Bobby Jindal. Frankly, an improvement over Bill Clinton, if you remember, at the 1988 convention where he droned on and on and no one thought he had a political future. But I think that Marco Rubio can recover from this moment, but I think we can expect to see this on "Saturday Night Live" Saturday.

BALDWIN: You think?

Rick Newman, you thirsty? Final thoughts?

NEWMAN: You know, I -- if he had given a really great rebuttal, I think we'd be overlooking that.

BALDWIN: Yes.

NEWMAN: I thought Rubio was more defensive than necessary. I mean he was defending Republicans against charges that Obama did not really make against Republicans, or attacks that Obama didn't really mount. So he sort of -- I think he prepared to rebut a different speech and that gulp of water there just made him look nervous --

BALDWIN: It was pre-written, though.

NEWMAN: For good reason because he was rebutting the wrong speech in a way. But it's not definitive and we'll hear more from Marco Rubio.

BALDWIN: OK. We'll also look for it Saturday night, as you guys point out.

Patricia Murphy, Amy Holmes, and Rick Newman, thank you so, so much for coming on today. Appreciate it.

HOLMES: Thanks, Brooke.

MURPHY: Thank you.

NEWMAN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Cops say he is dangerous. He is desperate. And escaped prisoner on the run in shackles and handcuffs. Hear how this convicted sex offender managed to get away from police. We're on the case, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Extremely dangerous. Capable of anything. A manhunt as big as Texas is underway right now for this convicted sex offender who staged a daring escape all the while handcuffed and shackled. His name is Alberto Morales. He's 42 years old. And as you can see here, count them four just in this picture, he's amassed quite the collection of mug shots to go with his rap sheet. And police say he has vowed not to return to prison.

Here's the thing. He escaped in the parking lot of this Wal-Mart -- this is Grapevine, Texas -- as detectives were escorting him from Florida to Nevada for sentencing. Police say Morales -- keep in mind, this guy is handcuffed and shackled -- apparently broke an ear piece off his eyeglasses, used the tip of the glass here to stab one of the detectives during a convenience stop.

Morales isn't just dangerous. Police say he is desperate. They're afraid he might break into someone's home for food, maybe fresh clothes. They have no clue where this guy is. They don't even know if he's still shackled.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. ROBERT EBERLING, GRAPEVINE, TEXAS, POLICE: This guy's been in prison for the better part of the last 10 years. So it's something we describe as a little bit of a prison education that he's received. And, you know, unfortunately, those inmates that are in prison, you know, they sometimes practice and train for, you know, situations like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Morales is facing 30 years to life in prison in Nevada for sexual assault. He also faces more prison time for crimes in Florida if and when he is captured. The detective he stabbed, by the way, is in a hospital in Dallas.

Sunny Hostin is our CNN legal analyst here on the case with me today.

And, first of all, stabbing an officer with glasses? You ever heard of this?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I've never heard of it, but criminals tend to be very crafty, right? And they -- and criminals especially that want to escape. But I've got to tell you, I mean, there are certain parameters to high risk inmate transport, which is what this was. And generally there are more than two officers. There are usually three or four. And there are all these guidelines. It appears that in this case, Brooke, unfortunately, he was supposed to be transported by air. That would have been probably a safer way to transport him.

BALDWIN: Yes, why not take a plane? Why are they in a car?

HOSTIN: Yes, they said that he was acting erratically. That's what we know at this point. And so my sense is they thought that the safer way to transport him would have been by car. Apparently someone -- another person was supposed to meet them there. Another detective. And that didn't happen. And it's very unfortunate because it certainly is a threat now to those that are in the area. He's considered armed. He's considered dangerous. And he has a pretty dangerous past as well.

BALDWIN: Yes, I guess this will just add another layer of a charge if and when they finally catch him.

Sunny --

HOSTIN: Oh, no question about it. It's illegal to escape --

BALDWIN: You can't do that.

HOSTIN: During a prison transport. Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Yes. Sunny Hostin, thank you very much.

HOSTIN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, my hot topics panel standing by, talking about Chris Dorner, still getting support -- despite everything we've been watching and covering -- still getting support in social media.

Also, a student sues for getting a c plus in grad school.

Yet another person dies at the infamous heart attack grill.

And toy guns, are they good or they bad? Get some solid personalities today. Find out who is weighing in, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)