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Oscar Pistorius will be Formally Charged with Murder; Dorner's Body May Not Be Positively Identified; LAPD Investigating Dorner's Allegations

Aired February 14, 2013 - 09:00   ET



CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Happening now in the NEWSROOM, breaking overnight, the girlfriend of South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius shot dead in his home.

DENISE BEUKES, PRETORIA POLICE DEPARMTENT: A 26-year-old man has been arrested and has been charged with murder.

COSTELLO: Questions swirling around the Blade Runner this morning.

BEUKES: Media reports during the course of the morning often alleged break-in or that the young lady was allegedly mistaken to be a burglar. We're not sure where this report came from. It definitely didn't some from the South African police service.

COSTELLO: Plus squalid, smelly and steamy.

BRENT NUTT, WIFE STUCK ON CARNIVAL TRIUMPH: I promise you none of my family members that are on there will probably ever, ever take another cruise.

COSTELLO: The cruise from hell, also known as the Carnival Triumph, just hours from docking in Alabama after being stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. What are the passengers getting? 500 bucks and this.

GERRY CAHILL, PRESIDENT & CEO, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: At Carnival, our promise to our guests is to provide a great vacation experience.

COSTELLO: Also, mega merger: American, U.S. Airways now the world's biggest airline. What it means for ticket prices.

And top dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the affenpinscher. Banana Joe.

COSTELLO: The little black pooch packing up his Best in show ribbon and a bag of chew toys and heading to wall street.


COSTELLO: Banana Joe ringing the opening bell live this hour.

NEWSROOM starts now.



COSTELLO (on camera): And good morning, thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. We start this morning with a shocking Valentine's Day tragedy. The world renowned Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend. His girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, only 29 years old, found dead at Pistorius' home this morning.

Joining us now is Robyn Curnow; she's in Johannesburg, South Africa. What is the latest, Robyn?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there. Well, this much we know. Oscar Pistorius will be formally charged with murder on Friday morning, tomorrow, South African time. He's going to spend the night in jail here after quite a tragic set of events today. We in the last 12 hours, the details slowly started emerging of what happened at Oscar Pistorius' house in the early hours of Valentine's Day.

What we know is that his girlfriend was shot dead. Initially reports suggested that he had mistaken her for being an intruder. However, the police have recently come out and said they never said anything of the sort, that's not the line of questioning they're looking at, and they've hinted at previous domestic disturbances at his house.

Either way, this is a tragedy, a 30-year-old model has lost her life and Oscar Pistorius, who's no doubt one of the most famous South Africans out there, spending the night in jail for her murder.


BEUKES: There are witnesses and there was an interview this morning.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) or neighbors?

BEUKES: We're talking about neighbors and people that heard things that happened earlier in the evening and when the shooting took place.


CURNOW: So you just heard a brief statement there from a police spokesperson speaking to South African media just a few hours ago. What is clear is that there's a lot of confusion at the moment still, Carol, about what happened and I think whatever comes out in court tomorrow will sort of illuminate some of the details.

What is interesting is that even though Oscar Pistorius is more than likely to apply for bail, the police say they will oppose any bail application. They say they're not giving any reasons. The police obviously believing that they have a strong case against him.

COSTELLO: Unbelievable. OK, we'll continue following the story. Robyn Curnow reporting live from South Africa this morning. Also this morning, frantic mothers are pacing a dock in Mobile, Alabama, where their children are about to return from the so-called cruise from hell. As you can see in this Facebook photo, passengers line the rail of the Carnival cruise ship Triumph, their only escape from squalid, almost unimaginable conditions since a fire knocked out power four days ago.

Passengers say raw sewage has sloshed around in the hallways, their rooms are sweltering and food lines last for hours. Imagine if you had loved ones on board this ship enduring this.


KIM MCKERREGHAN, DAUGHTER STRANDED ON SHIP: Ten hours, basically after it happened, is that they were asking for them to use plastic bags, to use the restrooms in, and that they had eaten onion sandwiches for dinner that night. And it's just getting worse. So that was the last time we talked to them, and there's just no telling what the conditions are right now.


COSTELLO: Adding to the misery, the ship's arrival is running more than three hours late. According to the Coast Guard, the Triumph and three tugboats are now 60 miles from port. The ship was supposed to dock sometime late this afternoon. Now we're thinking early evening.

We're covering the angles from land, sea and air. Sarah Endo is on a helicopter, waiting on the final leg of the voyage. Victor Blackwell is live from a boat off Dauphin Island. And David Mattingly is standing by at port. Chad Myers is also in the CNN Weather Center to lay out the final hours of this grueling journey home.

Let's begin with Victor Blackwell.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Carol, the conditions here in Mobile Bay at about 15 knots, which should not be a difficult condition for this cruise ship. The water is a bit choppy but let me show you the map of what's going to happen. Over in that direction is the mouth of the bay. You can't see it from here because it's not a straight line path, but that's where we're expecting the cruise ship to come in in a few hours.

Now we just heard radio traffic between the pilot who will guide in Triumph and Triumph, and they're expecting to come in a little after 12:30 Eastern. We're going to see them. And then it's a 33-mile trek to the port. Now, we know that the shipping channel is over in this direction. Larger ships have come through this path, cargo ships, but this will be the largest cruise ship to dock at this terminal, only by about 40 feet, and we know it will be the largest group of people to disembark here, by only about 300 people. And that's where they will start this process to head home.

My colleague David Mattingly is there at the cruise terminal.

COSTELLO: All right, let's go to David Mattingly now. Thank you so much and I wish we could spot that cruise ship, which would mean it's a lot closer to shore but no.

David Mattingly, once this ship docks, what will happen?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's when things are going to start moving pretty quickly for the people on board. They've got a system here where they're going to come off the gangway that you see behind me. They're going to come down here, they're going to be processed through, they're going to be reunited with their luggage, and then they're going to go to buses.

Now the customers here have a couple of choices. They can meet up with family members if they're here. They can meet them here and go on their own way. Or get on a bus, go to a hotel that's been provided for them, and you can bet there's a lot of people there in bad need of a hot shower right now. But they also have the option of going all the way back to Galveston, Texas, where a lot of people have their cars parked where they originally got on the boat there. They can go all the way back and get their car and go home tonight. They have those options. So that's what they're going to be looking at when they get here.

They're trying to make things moving quick, get them moving pretty quickly here, because they've already got custom officials on board this ship to start processing people, so that by the time the boat does stop and they do get off, that they can get on their way just as quickly as possible.

COSTELLO: I hope so. David Mattingly reporting live from Mobile, Alabama. We'll get back to you.

Let's head up - let's go up in the air now. Sandra Endo is in a helicopter. She's' flying over that cruise ship. Do you see it down below, Sandra?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not yet, Carol, because as you were mentioning it's farther south than anticipated. Officials are saying it's nearly 60 nautical miles south from the port. And initially they were anticipating this cruise ship to actually dock (AUDIO GAP) later this evening.

We've been flying south of Dauphin Island trying to get the first glimpse of this ship, but clearly it is too far south, too far away from the mouth of the port of Mobile (AUDIO GAP).

COSTELLO: I suspected that might happen. So we're having a little problem - you know, it's hard to get a live shot from the air sometimes.

Let's head to the Weather Center and talk about what Sandra was talking about, Chad, why that ship is moving farther away from shore.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Weather, Carol. You know how long it takes to you get from New York to California, like 4 hours and 45 minutes? And only takes you 3 hours and 15 minutes to get back. How did that just happen? How did the jet stream bother this airplane so much? Well, the wind has bothered this boat tremendously. We've had offshore winds, 20 to 25 miles per hour, all night long and thunderstorms. Yesterday about this time, this boat was only 80 miles from where it is right now. So in 24 hours, this boat only made 80 miles of headway because of the wind blowing it back toward the ocean.

As hard as this tug pulled, it's only 5,000 horsepower. You have to understand, the Triumph has 46,000 horsepowers' worth of engine. So if the engine is just not really enough in this tug to pull it very fast. It's going to go here between Dauphin Island and that right there, that's Ft. Morgan, going to come up the Mobile Channel.

And this is going to be the dreadful part for these people on shore. This is only going to go three or four miles per hour for about 30 miles. They'll be able to see land for ten hours and not be able to get off.

COSTELLO: That's like torture.

MYERS: Yes, all night long it was raining, rain on top of them, so the people that were on the deck thinking they had a good spot -- not good because it was raining on top of them. That rain also had some winds pushing the boat a little bit off course. Crazy weather out there, Carol.

COSTELLO: I don't know how they're surviving this. I really don't. I can't even imagine.

MYERS: And I'm going on a cruise next Saturday on Carnival.

COSTELLO: You're still going?

MYERS: So far.

COSTELLO: I mean, if I were your wife, I'd be saying, "Chad, we're staying home, honey." OK, stick around.

MYERS: I'll have that conversation tomorrow.

COSTELLO: I knew it, I knew it. Thank you, Chad.

MYES: You're welcome.

COSTELLO: New information this morning about the Pope. Vatican officials are confirming that Pope Benedict hit his head during a trip to Mexico last March, but deny the fall had anything to do with his health or his recently announced resignation.

On this Valentine's Day, same-sex marriage could be a step closer to reality in Illinois. The State Senate expected to pass a bill allowing same-sex marriage. The measure still needs the approval of the State House and the governor. If that happens, Illinois would become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

And it was the sip heard around the country. Now, some groups are trying to capitalize on Marco Rubio's drink of water during his State of the Union response. For a $25 donation, Marco Rubio's super PAC is sending people a Rubio water bottle. The quote on the site: "Send those liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you, he hydrates you, too." Hmm.

Then there's this Facebook photo by the makers of the bottled water Rubio drank. Poland Springs is having a little fun with the moment, showing the famous bottle of water in front of a dressing room mirror after its cameo. It's a star now.

An asteroid about half the length of a football field is supposed to fly by the earth tomorrow. It will pass within 17,000 miles of the earth, a distance that could be cleared in just about 15 minutes. Don't get too worried, though. NASA says the odds of the asteroid actually hitting the earth are quite low.

A big announcement in the business world this morning, U.S. Airways and American Airlines merging. The new mega-carrier will use the American name and be the largest airline in the world.

Alison Kosik is tracking the story and of course all we care about is how this will affect ticket prices.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I hear you. That's what we're all thinking about. And you're not going to necessarily see the ticket prices spike when you go to make your airline ticket tomorrow or the next day, because mergers don't necessarily cause these spikes in airline fares.

Historically, you look, fares don't go up because mergers happen. In fact, when you adjust these fares for inflation, they've actually been falling, even though it doesn't feel like it. Fares have actually been falling since the 1980s. I want to you listen to travel expert Mark Murphy. Here are some of the benefits of this merger.


MARK MURPHY, TRAVEL EXPERT: This merger will provide the traveler with better connections. I think you're going to be in nine major hubs between the two carriers now with the merger, so you're going to be able to get where you want to go more efficiently and effectively.


KOSIK: I want to show you something, that there isn't a lot of overlap, that when these airlines merge, a lot of the places where you fly into are really going to remain where they are. So there's nine major hubs; you see others. Once again, not a lot of overlap so not a lot of worry at this point about not enough flights being available. That could also not affect prices as well.

Keep in mind, though, there are a few headaches with this. This kind of merger, Carol, doesn't happen overnight so, as consumers, you could see a few headaches like reservation problems, logistical headaches, lost baggage. But overall, for the airline industry, this was inevitable and many experts say this is something good for the industry, even though it does lessen competition there. COSTELLO: All right, Alison Kosik, thanks so much. I know you're awaiting the big winner of the Westminster dog show to ring the opening bell.


COSTELLO: And you'll have an exclusive interview with Banana Joe.

KOSIK: I do. We'll see what he barks to me.

COSTELLO: He speaks four languages, you know.

KOSIK: I know, I'll have to brush up.

COSTELLO: Alison Kosik, we can't wait. Thank you so much.

Coming up next in the NEWSROOM, we're going to take you to California, because it's difficult to understand why ex-cop Christopher Dorner went on that bizarre killing spree. We talk to his girlfriend, next.


COSTELLO: Seventeen minutes past the hour. Time to check our top stories.

In Nogales, Arizona, federal agents shut down a cross border drug smuggling tunnel. The 68-foot-long tunnel was hand dug and ran from the front yard of a home in Mexico to a parking lot in Arizona. Police seized 1,200 pounds of marijuana and arrested two men.

New government information shows use of the "morning after pill" is on the rise. From 2006 to 2010, 11 percent of sexually active women between the ages of 15 and 44 said they had used the emergency contraception. That's more than double the reported use from 2002. The study did not cite a reason for the increase.

Some good news for the housing market, foreclosure filings last month plunged to their lowest level since April of 2007. Filings fell to just more than 150,000 in January, primarily because of a new California law that protects homeowners. Foreclosures in that state fell by 62 percent.

Miss America coming home to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Las Vegas hosted the pageant since 2006. But next year, the ceremony will return to its original home in New Jersey. A formal announcement is expected next hour at Atlantic City's boardwalk hall, the birth place of the original Miss America pageant.

New details today from the ex-girlfriend of the man who killed four people, including two police officers during a week-long vendetta.

Ariana Williams told CNN's "STARTING POINT", knowing Christopher Dorner the way she did, she wasn't surprised by his killing rampage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ARIANNA WILLIAMS, EX-GIRLFRIEND OF CHRISTOPHER DORNER: I sort of expected it. I can't tell you this would never happen. I mean, when you see signs of someone's behavior in the manner that sort of like stress-induced type behavior also, I think coupled with maybe how their personality already is, I think it makes it easier to understand why something like this could possibly happen.


COSTELLO: Connie Rice is a civil rights attorney in Los Angeles. We're going to talk to her about the ramifications of Dorner's death and the investigation by the LAPD.

But we wanted to begin with Nick Valencia. He's been following the investigation in Big Bear Lake, California.

Nick, when will authorities be reasonably 100 percent sure the body in the burned out cabin is Christopher Dorner's?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, it could potentially take days before authorities are able to officially confirm whether or not that was Chris Dorner's body pulled out of the cabin.

But right now, they're going to use DNA testing, dental records. If there's any indication, the manhunt is over and things are back to relative normalcy here in Big Bear Lake.

Let me give you some more perspective, Carol. Where we're standing here is where the first command post was for the San Bernardino County sheriff's department, and that's just 100 yards, less than 100 yards from this cabin right behind me here, where Chris Dorner tied up a couple and stole their car. It's not the one with the two balconies right behind there.

But very unsettling, fairly unnerving, in fact, that Chris Dorner could have potentially been hiding right behind the noses of the San Bernardino sheriff's department, a lot of unanswered questions as to how they could have missed Chris Dorner if he was hiding out so close to them -- Carol.

COSTELLO: You're not kidding. Nick Valencia reporting live from Big Bear Lake, California.

Let's go to Connie Rice.

Connie, welcome. Thank you for joining us.


COSTELLO: You've been involved in lawsuits against the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPD has said it will be transparent throughout this investigation. Do you trust them?

RICE: Well, it's not a matter of trusting. It's a matter of working with them to make sure a secondary investigation happens. Yes, I've sued them for a long time but ever since Chief Bratton has been here, I also have been helping them to make this transition from the old LAPD to the new LAPD.

COSTELLO: What do you mean by a secondary investigation?

RICE: Well, when Chief Beck, the current chief of police of the Los Angeles Police Department, stepped up and said we're going to take a look at the allegations because we need to know whether our old system of kind of deep-sixing whistleblowers in LAPD actually had an impact on what happened to Mr. Dorner.

We need to know. We need to know whether LAPD's internal affairs system has changed from the old days or do we need to still do some work. I would think we still need to do some work.

COSTELLO: So, essentially, the LAPD is reopening the case of I guess against Christopher Dorner as to the reasons he was fired. Will they make their findings public, one way or the other?

RICE: One way or the other, and I think that on this record we may not be able to find out what actually happened now, but I think it's important for LAPD to stand up and acknowledge the old culture where African-American officers and other officers who weren't wanted were often deep-sixed, they were sabotaged and deep-sixed.

And the public needs to know that that's no longer the LAPD way and that's what Chief Beck wants to see. Was there a situation in this, when he was fired, when Dorner was fired, was he fired for good reasons or was the old system of snuffing out whistleblowers at work here and was there a miscarriage of justice done when he was fired?

Either way, it's not about Dorner. It's about the integrity of the LAPD's investigation systems.

COSTELLO: Well, I guess, you know, my next question what about the LAPD finds out the investigation into Dorner wasn't handled quite right. How do you calm things down in certain communities within Los Angeles?

RICE: I wouldn't worry about calming things down. The community is going to react the way it does.

What's important here is for LAPD to acknowledge what's happened inside of it, and is LAPD really beyond the old ways of deep-sixing investigations about misconduct? If you were a whistleblower reporting misconduct against a civilian, which is what Dorner is supposed to have done here, you didn't -- you never made your complaint. I mean, it was just -- you do not report superiors for abusing a civilian.

So what happened here? LAPD needs to know. It's not about Dorner. It's about whether we can think LAPD is beyond its old ways of deep- sixing whistle-blowers.

COSTELLO: Connie Rice, thank you so much for sharing your views with us today. We appreciate it.

The predator drone, is it the new American hero? That's our talk back question.


COSTELLO: Now is your chance to talk back on one of the big stories of the day. The question for you this morning: is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism?

The drone -- a remote controlled killing machine -- now a hero? Eligible for a distinguished warfare medal? That medal will outrank the Bronze Star, which is awarded for heroic acts performed under fire in physical combat.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The work that they do, the contribution that they make, does contribute to the success of combat operations, particularly when they remove the enemy from the field of battle.


COSTELLO: OK, so the operators or pilots of these unmanned drones will get the medal. Still what a strange time to suggest such an honor.

The drone program remains controversial. Republican Senator Rand Paul says he'll block the nomination of the CIA director to find out if one of those so-called hero drones can take out an American on U.S. soil.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: What I want to hear from John Brennan before I agree to let his nomination go forward is that, no, the CIA or the Department of Defense cannot kill someone in America without, you know, any kind of judicial proceeding.


COSTELLO: Yes, drones did take out Anwar al-Awlaki, the terrorist who inspired the underwear bomber over Detroit. Still, a distinguished warfare medal?

So, the talk back question for you today, is drone warfare worthy of a medal for heroism?,, or tweet me @carolCNN.