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Country Music Star Dies; Lakers Owner Dies; Man Accused of Hitting Toddler; New Developments in Pistorius Case; Facebook Pays No Taxes

Aired February 18, 2013 - 14:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: You can see more of Kyra's interview on our sister network HLN.

That is it for me. Deb Feyerick takes it from here.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Hey there, Suzanne. Thank you so very much. I'm Deborah Feyerick, in for Brooke Baldwin. The news starts now.

Well, if there's a song in here, it is a sad one. Country music's Mindy McCready, so much talent, so much turmoil. Mindy McCready has died at age 37. Last night the only sign of life at her Arkansas home was the light above the porch where her body was found on Sunday. In a final tragic twist to a life filled with pain, it is the spot where her boyfriend and the father of her child, David Wilson, was found last month. Both died of gunshot wounds. Both apparently self- inflicted, say police. Mindy McCready's star rose fast, but it plummeted even faster. What I'll show you right now is merely the cliff notes version of a turbulent life that included several arrests, jail time, drug abuse, family drama and several suicide attempts. In 2009, McCready did a stint on "Celebrity Rehab," during which she had an apparent seizure, as you see there. Dr. Drew Pinsky got to know her from the show and says the two talked within the past few weeks.


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": I did not treat her, was not her physician, but when I heard she was struggling, I did reach out to her and urged her to go take care of herself, get in a facility if she felt she needed it. There was good support around her and helped her do that. But her biggest fear was the stigma of doing so and what people would think if she, God forbid, took care of herself. I mean this, to me, is the most distressing part of this story. She was a lovely woman. We have lost her and it didn't have to go down like that.


FEYERICK: It didn't have to go down like that, says Dr. Drew Pinsky.

Well, joining us now from Los Angeles, psychotherapist Sherry Gaba. She worked with Mindy McCready on "Celebrity Rehab."

You know, this is a woman who had attempted suicide at least four times, drug overdose, slashing her wrists. Her children had been taken from her. Her boyfriend, the father of her 10-month-old son, apparently kills himself just a month ago. Isn't McCready somebody who, by all accounts, should have been under someone's supervision?

SHERRY GABA, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Exactly. I mean these are multiple losses. People underestimate what happens when there are multiple losses in somebody's life. I mean, absolutely she should not have been left alone. This is a woman who, when you are isolated like that, you're going to be under tremendous pain and depression. And this is, unfortunately, what can happen.

You know, when someone is an addict, alcoholic, struggling with mental illness, as she was, the loss of her children, the death of her boyfriend, should not be left alone. And the question is, why was there a gun in the house. These are all things that I wonder about.

FEYERICK: You know, and it's just -- it's so fascinating. You know, you always think of these celebrities as people who have multiple people who are around them, even if it's just -- if it's an assistant or somebody who works for them. McCready was in psychiatric treatment facility. She checked herself out early. And Dr. Drew says he spoke with McCready in the past month. She says that she was concerned about the stigma. A stigma that society places. But, you know, if that's the case, Sherry, why subject yourself to "Celebrity Rehab" when you're so vulnerable?

GABA: Well, I find that interesting. I mean, I find that really actually quite a paradox because the fact that she was on "Celebrity Rehab," to me, shows that she wanted to show the world, you know, look, if I'm going to be on this show and I'm going to show you about, you know, the pain of addiction and what it's done to my life. And if I can show you that I can get well and I can get -- you know, I can go through recovery, so can you. So the fact that she left a psych hospital because she was afraid of the stigma of mental illness, I find that to be really amazing and really sad and I don't understand how this could happen because she did have the courage to go on "Celebrity Rehab" and to show people that there is hope. And there was hope at that time. She did do a program. And she was getting better.

FEYERICK: And when you look at it, you know, mental illness, addiction, do the two always go hand and hand or not necessarily? If you're treating one, should you be treating the other?

GABA: Yes, often their -- we call that a dual diagnosis. There's often depression or a bipolar or some sort of anxiety. Clearly this was going on for Mindy. This is so tragic. Yes, often the two go together.

FEYERICK: All right. Sherry Gaba, thank you so much. We appreciate your insights into this terrible, terrible tragedy. Thank you.

GABA: Very sad.

FEYERICK: Well, the man who brought glitz and glamour to the NBA has died. Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away this morning from an unspecified cancer. Buss took over the team in 1979 when it was near bankruptcy, and since then the Lakers have earned 10 championships and have had regular a-list celebs court side. Well, don't we know that? Plus, there have been the steady stream of superstars Buss paid to be on the court, like Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal.

Joining me now is John Salley, who played for the Lakers from 1999 to 2000.

And, John, how do you describe the impact that this man had?

JOHN SALLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm just going to say, Dr. Buss, rest in peace. He definitely brought the show time image. That way -- that way that the Lakers see it. Everyone knows when you would hear that music, "I love L.A.," it changed the way the game went. He had the greatest suite. It had some of the prettiest women in the world. But if you got up to the suite and paid attention, Dr. Buss was sitting up front, eyes on the game. He was really serious about it.

Given the team to his son and his daughter, knowing he was sick, he was just a really, really good guy. And I'm going to tell you, intense. He would -- you know, you could laugh with him, you could hang out with him. He would be on the bus when I was -- when Phil -- my first year, when Phil Jackson's first year, 1999, he would be on the bus sitting behind us, flying with -- I mean, on the plane flying with us, that obviously he paid for. But he didn't say anything. He never sat there and told anybody, this is what you should be doing. He was just the owner. And he was a really, really good guy on top of it.

FEYERICK: So when you look at it, I mean it really sounds that he revolutionized sort of the sport by turning it into something just bigger than the game itself.


FEYERICK: Did you know that his health had been declining? Do you remember maybe your last conversation with him?

SALLEY: Yes. The last time I heard Dr. Buss, they talked about it in the past year that he wasn't doing well. A friend of mine named Bonnie Gelus (ph), a really, really good friend of his. She would let me know what was going on with Dr. Buss. I would see his driver periodically here in Los Angeles.

But he was to himself. Like probably we don't even know what cancer it was. Right now it's undisclosed because Dr. Buss was private but public person, that's the same thing (ph). I went there at his -- getting his star on Hollywood. I thought that was cool that the owner of a basketball team is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. And the reason he's on the Hollywood Walk of Fame because every star that you see in Hollywood had to come to a Laker game. That made you a real star.

FEYERICK: So he definitely had the support of everybody that you need to get that particular star. When you think about the impact, personal impact on you, how do you think he changed the way you see life?

SALLEY: Well, I look at it this way. Dr. Buss came in and said, we're going to take a team that's from bankruptcy. We're going to make it the best team. Because it was known with Kareem coming to the team, it had the great Jerry Buss -- I mean Jerry West and it had Elgin Bayless, two of my favorite players of all time, but they weren't winning. And then when they got that winning feeling, I remember when I was a little boy, when I saw Magic Johnson first come into the -- into -- he's five years older than me, or four years older than me, he was 19 years old and I was like -- my brother said, you're 15, and he's only four years older than you and look where he's at. And I remember working extra hard from 15 until I got to that point of being a pro.

He would introduce me to people. I hung out with him a couple of times. He was really, really a good person. And he had money, but he didn't -- he didn't like flaunt it. He was wearing his jeans. He wore his tank tops. He was a really good guy.

FEYERICK: And it seemed like he had enough to share.

All right, John Salley, thank you so much. We really appreciate your insights on his passing. Thanks.

SALLEY: I love it. Thanks for having me.

FEYERICK: Well, some of the hottest other top stories. Roll it.

In a surprise move, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is back home. Chavez was in Cuba for more than two months for cancer surgery. This picture of Chavez with his daughters was tweeted by Venezuelan's information minister. The 58-year-old leader arrived in the night. He's reportedly in a military hospital in Caracas.

New details are emerging on the health of Pope Benedict XVI a week after his announced resignation. According to a report in the German magazine "Focus," the pope appears to be blind in one eye and is losing his hearing. Benedict cited his poor health in his decision to resign. February 28th will be his last day as pope.

Driver Danica Patrick wins the pole position for the Daytona 500. That makes her the first woman to start the legendary race. Patrick told CNN's Don Lemon that she loves the idea of going beyond racing in general.


DANICA PATRICK, NASCAR DRIVER: One of the coolest things is to be able to think that parents and their kids are having that conversation at home about it and to, you know, I've heard stories about a little -- a kid, a boy or a girl, saying, but, mommy, daddy, that's a girl that's out there racing. And then they can have that conversation to say, you can do anything you want to do and gender doesn't matter. Your passion is what matters. And that's cool.


FEYERICK: A racer is a racer a racer. Patrick won the pole position by going more than 196 miles per hour. The Daytona 500 is this Sunday. Well, meteor hunters say this moment could mean big bucks for them. A sonic boom as a meteor shatters, sending fragments across Russia's Ural Mountains in western Siberia. The first fragments were discovered by scientists in this frozen lake. It is in a remote area that may soon be flooded with tourists from across the globe. They're traveling here to track down those fragments. They hope to sell them for as much as $10,000 a piece.

Well, how does President Obama celebrate the President's Day holiday weekend? Well, same way as you do? No, he plays golf with Tiger Woods. The president and Woods teed it up over the weekend at the Palm City Resort in south Florida. Despite the high profile outing, the game was off limits to White House reporters and photographers.

Also, an Idaho man has just lost his job and gained a lot of haters online after what he's accused of doing to a baby on board a flight to Atlanta.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sing twinkle, twinkle.



FEYERICK: Now, when this 19-month-old boy began to cry, the man called the child a racial slur and slapped him. And the man, he's a former executive of an aerospace and defense company. CNN's Rene Marsh has the story.


RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jonah Bennett is 19 months old and a curious ordinary toddler. But what allegedly happened on a February 8th flight from Minneapolis was far from ordinary. Jessica Bennett says she and her adopted son were on Delta Flight 721 to Atlanta in seat 28B. And next to them, in seat 28A was this man, Joe Ricky Hundley of Hayden, Idaho.

JESSICA BENNETT, MOTHER: He was just being rude and belligerent and I just felt very uncomfortable.

MARSH: She says she even left her seat and stood in the back of the plane holding Jonah for much of the flight. But she had to sit back down for landing in Atlanta. Because of the altitude change, Jonah was uncomfortable and crying. Then it got ugly.

BENNETT: I was having trouble comforting him and that's when the guy had made his comment to me.

MARSH: Court documents say Hundley allegedly told Jessica to, quote, "shut that (n word) baby up."

BENNETT: I could not believe that he would say something like that and to a baby or about a baby. MARSH: Then Hundley allegedly slapped Jonah, hitting him in the eye.

BENNETT: And then to hit him was just -- I felt like I was in another world. I was shaking.

MARSH: According to the criminal complaint, fellow passengers came to her aid. CNN reached out to Hundley, who has been charged with assaulting a minor. He declined to comment and asked us to talk to his attorney.


FEYERICK: Now Rene Marsh joins me live.

And, Rene, you know, does Jonah's family plan to sue the man or even Delta for their role in this?

MARSH: Well, you know, I spoke with the family attorney today and he says that they want, at the end of the day, Hundley to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. As far as legal action the couple will take, he left that pretty open. He says that they're investigating all of the evidence, including whether alcohol played a role.

Now, I asked him specifically, will he go after Delta? He says that -- he's playing it safe right now, saying that he's not quite sure what they will do. He did not say that he wouldn't go after Delta. But what he did say is that he plans on exploring a civil suit against Hundley. Here is the family's attorney on Hundley losing his job this weekend as a result of the allegations.


JOHN D. THOMPSON, ATTORNEY FOR SLAPPED CHILD'S FAMILY: But I guess I'd have to agree with those who would say that's not enough. The family wants to make sure that Mr. Hundley and anyone like Mr. Hundley never does something like that again.


MARSH: All right, well, I spoke to Hundley's attorney and, in her words, she says this has escalated into a racial issue and she says she wants to be very clear that her client is not racist. She says that he's, quote, dealing with his own issues.


FEYERICK: Fascinating. And clearly the family could see if they could get assault charges filed against him or even hate crime charges.

All right, Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

Well, just hours before Oscar Pistorius head backs to court, investigators release new details in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and how she likely spent her last moments.

Plus, a pregnant woman accuses her employer of acting unChrist-like after they fire her. Now there's a lawsuit. We're on the case.


FEYERICK: A report of a bloody cricket bat found at the home of Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius. It's unclear what role, if any, the bat played in the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Police say Steenkamp was shot four times through a bathroom door and it is alleged Pistorius then carried her downstairs while she was still alive.

While the double amputee sits in a South African jail, his fellow Olympic sprinter, Usain Bolt, is trying to process how his colleague got there. Listen to what the six-time Olympic gold medalist told our Rachel Nichols.


USAIN BOLT, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: When I heard it, I was, like, what? Who? As in the amputee? The guy who ran the 400 meter? I was asking all kinds of questions because this can't be the same guy that I've seen, that I know. And I still can't process it, really. I'm trying to process what really happened, what's going on.

So as far as I'm concerned, just listening out, listen to the news, hear what's up, follow Twitter, and just see what's going on because, for me, I'm still in slight shock for what happened.


FEYERICK: And Oscar Pistorius' agent says he is canceling all of the runner's future races.

CNN's Robyn Curnow is in Johannesburg.

And, Robyn, what more are we learning both about the blood-stained cricket bat and the final moments of this tragic event?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: First of all, it is just amazing how everybody is united in shock over this, isn't it? It has been such a stunning story across the world and more so here in South Africa, where Oscar was such a hero. But let me just give you some idea, paint you a picture of what we believe were Reeva Steenkamp's last moments.

We know, according to an official close to the investigation, that she was there to spend the night. They found her overnight bag and an iPad.

We also know, according to the same official, that she was shot four times through a closed bathroom door and that Oscar then carried her downstairs and she was still alive.

Now, this cricket bat, this bloodied cricket bat is the one piece of evidence we cannot corroborate from our sources. This is based, I must stress, on local media speculation. But there is this cricket bat element, bloodied. What was it used for?

Well, there are three points here. Did Reeva defend herself? Did Oscar try to attack her with this bat? Or the clearer line of thought seems to think that he tried to bash down that closed bathroom door to get to her after the shooting.

All in all, you know, it is still very confusing. We're getting more details. But still, you know, don't answer that question, you know, that all of us are asking, which is why.

FEYERICK: Yes, and, Robyn, you know, it is fascinating. We also don't know whose blood was on that bat and that will obviously be significant in terms of the timeline.

But what about the charges? His family has said no, it was not premeditated murder. It may not have been murder at all, especially if he was shooting through the door. I know the law there is a little bit tight. But what do you expect or anticipate in terms of potential additional charges?

CURNOW: You know, I think at the moment it is all still so gray and woolly that we have just got to wait for this court case tomorrow. He appears before a local magistrate; it's a bond hearing, a bail hearing as we -- as we say here in South Africa.

And, you know, his family have said, listen, we strenuously deny these murder charges. They haven't denied he killed her. This is what his -- one of his family members has to say -- had to say.


ANTHONY PISTORIUS', OSCAR PISTORIUS' UNCLE: After consulting with our legal representatives, we deeply regret the allegations of premeditated murder. We have not -- no doubt here is no substance for the allegations and that the state's own case, including its own forensic evidence, strongly refutes any possibility of a premeditated murder, or murder as such.


CURNOW: As you can see, everyone, including his family, trying to grapple with this. And I did sort of say, you know, no understanding yet on why he might have done this. There is, again, more speculation out there that there might be steroids or some sort of drug use that sort of just flipped him into some sort of violent rage.

Again, can't comment on that. But at the moment, there's a lot of people in South Africa wondering if that was the motivation.

FEYERICK: And very quickly, Robyn, has Reeva Steenkamp's family said anything, because we haven't heard anything from her family.

CURNOW: No, they have been very quiet and understandably they have been utterly shell-shocked. We've only had this comment from her mom in the front page of this newspaper, saying, "My baby loved like no one else."

This -- it was a tearful interview on the telephone with this reporter. Otherwise, we've heard nothing else, and, again, she asks in this article the same thing all of us are asking, why.

FEYERICK: Why. Absolutely. All right. Robyn Curnow -- and of course, you're going to have the very latest after that court hearing tomorrow. We look forward to speaking with you again then. Thank you.

Well, coming up, a tax deal you'll want to hear about. Made more than a billion dollars in profit and get a hefty tax refund.

And later, South Carolina's ex-governor tries to get back into politics. He says it is all about forgiveness.



FEYERICK: Facebook raked in about a billion dollars in profits last year. But according to a tax watchdog group, it paid no federal or state taxes. We should all be so lucky. The social networking company is due a whopping $429 million refund.

Let's take you straight to Alison Kosik.

Alison, really, this report is sparking outrage amongst a lot of people.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really shouldn't, because just like maybe you and I do, we try to find legal ways, hopefully, legal ways to pay less in taxes. That's pretty much what Facebook did, you know, trying to find deductions to pay down its tax burden, just in this case, Facebook happened to take a $1 billion tax deduction last year for what is known as excess benefits from stock options.

So just to walk you back what this means, in the early days what happened was Facebook wound up paying many of its executives with stock options. That was really the compensation.

So what these essentially are, these options are, they're promises to buy shares of the company stock at a set price, let's say $1 for easy math.

So when Facebook did go public last year, that meant executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they could cash in those options, which means they could buy a share of Facebook for that $1. Now even though the shares were worth up to $38, that difference that you have with -- between the price paid and the actual market value, that is really the tax deduction for Facebook.

But, look, Facebook wasn't the only company that did this. I want to see if we have this list, because the Citizens for Tax Justice found that 185 other companies in the Fortune 500, they took similar deductions in 2010. These are huge companies. Apple, $742 million, look at those big numbers. It is not just Facebook.

And unless Congress winds up changing the tax code, this is how it is going to be.

FEYERICK: So basically they were operating like any smart company and that is they were getting the most that they could based on what the current laws say.

KOSIK: Exactly. Good accountants.

FEYERICK: (Inaudible) exactly, good -- everybody needs one. All right. Alison, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

And so no letup in the gun violence in Chicago.


FEYERICK (voice-over): Just hours after the president's push to end the senseless shootings, one of the teens who attended Obama's event finds out that her own sister has been murdered; details next.