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Lakers Owner Dies; Country Music Star Dies

Aired February 18, 2013 - 14:29   ET


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there, everyone. It is the top of the hour. I'm Deborah Feyerick in for Brooke Baldwin. Happening now, a Texas court case that has anti-abortion activists up in arms, but the couple who is the target of the anger says all the claims against them are false.

Inside this court building room in Harris County, the Texas Center for Defense of Life says it is trying to get a long-term injunction to help a 16-year-old girl, the center says her parents are trying to coerce the teen into getting an abortion against her will.

The lawsuit states the girl's mother -- quote -- "invited the paternal grandparents to a bar for further discussion, where the mother suggested that she might slip her daughter an abortion pill through deception" -- unquote.

The teenager is two months' pregnant. The court has already issued a restraining order against her parents. CNN is not naming them in order to keep the girl's identity from being known. But our Houston affiliate KPRC spoke with the attorneys from the Texas Center for Defense of Life when the restraining order was granted.


STEPHEN CASEY, ATTORNEY: We were asking the judge to stop them from physically forcing her to have an abortion. She's legally protected. So they cannot drag her to an abortion clinic and force an abortion on our client.


FEYERICK: Joining me is attorney Drew Findling.

Drew, let's be clear. Can anyone force a teenager into an abortion, no matter what the age of the girl?

DREW FINDLING, ATTORNEY: Deb, I don't think there is any chance in the world the parents are going to prevail. By getting TRO, they have shown a judge, her lawyers, the likelihood of their success.

And the problem that parents have is they're trying to use an abortion as a disciplinary measure and that's unacceptable. To take the life of this unborn child would be the equivalent to fetal homicide. And in Texas, as in most states, including pro-choice states, fetal homicide begins at gestation.

So there is just zero chance that a court will approve the taking of this unborn life.

FEYERICK: You know, I read through the petition that they filed in order to get this temporary restraining order. But here is what the parents -- it really is quite devastating against the parents. It suggests the mother goes to bars a lot, that the father is potentially abusive.

But here is what the parents are saying -- quote -- "The defendants deny each and every allegation of plaintiff's original petition. Defendants deny they have done or said anything that is not in the best interests of the child."

So, you know, when you think about this, clearly we're hearing the teenage girl's side of the story. What say, if any, do the parents have in this particular case?

FINDLING: I think, Deb, the only thing they can do is try to advise the child as parents. As far as forcing the child to have an abortion, they can suggest it.

But one thing I'm calling the elephant in the room in this case, and that is you're not seeing any bar associations, any pro-choice organizations lining up with these parents. Everybody is really running away from these parents right now.

FEYERICK: Well, also, because we haven't heard their side of the story. Right now, all we have is the teenager's side of the story, and she's clearly gone to a lawyer who is taking this case. But it is interesting how Roe vs. Wade can be used on the side of anti-abortion advocates as well.

FINDLING: And that's exactly right here.

And that's why, Deb, I'm analyzing and kind of looking at it and going, wow, the people that are pro-choice, they want to stay away from this. And you're right, we're only hearing what the child says and what her advocates say. We don't really know what took place, but for those that fight for pro-choice, they don't want to be anywhere near this courtroom.

FEYERICK: Yes, absolutely. One thing that was kind of interesting is that you read through it and it says, oh, the parents took away her phone and took away her car and took away -- you know, they kept her from school for a day.

So you're still sort of in the mind-set of a teenage girl. It's going to be very interesting. We will have updates on that throughout the afternoon. Thanks so much, Drew Findling. We appreciate it.

FINDLING: Thanks, Deb.

FEYERICK: And we're going to be heading to Los Angeles right now. The L.A. Lakers are having a press conference.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) BOB STEINER, BUSS FAMILY SPOKESMAN: ... family certainly knew for a while that the passing was imminent. And so they have had a lot of time to get as used to it as you possibly can.

QUESTION: We heard a lot about the illness. I know we heard it was cancer. This morning they're saying kidney failure. Is there anything you can tell us about what caused this the last 18 months?

STEINER: It was cancer. I believe they put down the cause of death as kidney failure, which indeed his kidneys did fail and that was at least several days ago that that happened. It has been a year- and-a-half struggle for Dr. Buss. Amazing man who lasted this long.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) been in the hospital since September?



STEINER: In and out.


STEINER: I'm sorry, what?

QUESTION: Can you elaborate on what type of cancer?

STEINER: No, I'm not sure. I haven't talked to any of the doctors and I haven't talked to the family about that specifically.

QUESTION: Are there any plans yet for a service?

STEINER: Those are pending. Yes, there are -- plans are under way for a memorial service for Dr. Buss. And there will be a -- certainly recognition on Wednesday. Again, Jeanie is sensational with those things.

QUESTION: Will it be the Staples Center, memorial service (OFF- MIKE)

STEINER: Mike, I'm not sure. I don't think it would be right at Staples Center. There was some conversation about the Nokia Theatre.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will get that information out, though, when we have it, Mike.


FEYERICK: You're listening right now to the press conference by Bob Steiner, spokesman for Dr. Buss' family. He is the man who brought glitz and glamour to the NBA. He died today. And according to spokesmen, it appears that it was kidney failure after a bout with cancer. The L.A. Lakers owner passed away this morning from unspecified cancer.

I spoke with former L.A. Laker John Salley about an hour ago. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SALLEY, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I'm just going to say, Dr. Buss, rest in peace. He definitely bought the showtime 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. Giving the team to his son and daughter, knowing he was sick, he was just a really, really good guy.


FEYERICK: And Dr. Buss as he was known took over the team in 1979 when it was near bankruptcy. During that time, over 20 years, the L.A. Lakers earned 10 championships and featured such players as Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal. Buss was 80 years old. That press conference is still going on. If you want to continue to monitor it, you can go to

A man is out of a job and facing jail time after allegedly uttering a racial slur and slapping a toddler on an airplane. Joe Rickey Hundley was sitting next to the young boy and his mother on a Delta flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta. The alleged incident happened as the plane began its descent which caused the child to cry. Here is how the family's attorney described what the mom said happened next.


JOHN D. THOMPSON, ATTORNEY: He then essentially fell over on her, kind of sloppy drunk. His head hit her cheek and then his face kind of slid down towards her ear and directly into her ear, he repeated the racial epithet, at which time Jessica basically pushed him back upright, so that he wasn't, you know, leaning on her anymore. And that's the time that he lashed out and slapped Jonah.

JESSICA BENNETT, MOTHER: I could not believe that he would say something like that and to a baby or about a baby, and then to hit him was just -- I felt like I was in another world. I was shaking.


FEYERICK: Now, in addition to losing his job for an aerospace contractor, Hundley faces federal charges of assaulting a minor. He could get a year in prison, but his lawyer says there is more to the story and says he will plead not guilty.


FEYERICK: With less than two weeks to go before a crucial deadline, it is looking increasingly likely the blunt force across- the-board spending cuts are coming to Washington. That's because Congress still can't agree to the targeted cuts needed to reverse an earlier deal that is so severe, hardly anyone thought at that time that it would ever go into effect.

Among other things, we're talking about the prospect of furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers.

Alison Kosik is in New York.

And when are we going to start to see the furloughs take place? These are all the people that sort of keep the things we count on running.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Deb, you make a good point there, because we talk about the spending cuts. We call it a sequester. It is very theoretical. But people will really be impacted if the spending cuts go into effect.

It would happen for the workers who are furloughed in April. These are really going to be some of the first people to feel that budget axe if Congress doesn't keep the $85 billion in spending cuts from happening. So, about two million federal workers all told will go ahead and have to take these furloughs known as unpaid leave. And some essential services could also be affected, like food inspections for one. Let's say the people at the Department of Agriculture, that division won't be able to send inspectors to locations and that's not all.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association is estimating more than 2,000 air traffic controllers could be furloughed. Also furloughed, federal prosecutors. That means fewer criminals will be prosecuted. And the list goes on and on, the National Park Service, Homeland Security, the entire Department of Defense. None of these furloughs will be final until the unions are negotiating.

So that's not really going to happen until March. The furloughs wouldn't necessarily happen until April. It also means any non-union employees, they really could be the first to face the unpaid time off. The cuts of course are part of the broader effort to try to trim $1.2 trillion from the national budget, from the federal deficit over the next 10 years.

And the Congressional Budget Office has been saying, you know, aside from the fact that all these workers could be furloughed, aside from the fact that we could have limited services in this country, it can also hurt the economy. The CBO is saying we could go back into a recession. So we will have to see. We have two weeks to go. Let's see if Congress steps up. If they don't, and these spending cuts go into effect, the other thing that could happen is they could be temporary, but we shall see.

FEYERICK: Absolutely. We saw the austerity measures in Europe and that -- they ground that country to a halt. Nobody wants to see that happening here. Alison Kosik, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


FEYERICK: Well, we will be right back after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

FEYERICK: If there is a song in here, it is definitely a sad one. Country music's Mindy McCready, so much talent, so much turmoil. Mindy McCready died at age 37. Late last night, the only sign of life at her Arkansas home was the light above the porch where her body was found Sunday.

In a final tragic twist to a life filled with pain, it was the same spot where her boyfriend, David Wilson, was found last month. Both died of gunshot wounds, both apparently self-inflicted, say police. David Wilson also the father of her young son.

Joining us now from Heber Springs, Arkansas, scene of the tragedy, CNN's Ed Lavandera.

Ed, is there any activity at the home today?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. We were just there a little while ago, Deborah. It is quiet. The yellow crime scene tape still up around the house where investigators were called out there around 3:30 in the afternoon.

We spoke with the sheriff here in Heber Springs, Arkansas, and told they were called by a neighbor who had heard two gunshots and they were called out to the scene because of that. And then shortly after that first 911 call, the sheriff said they also got a phone call from a friend of Mindy McCready who had gotten a message from a family member that something urgent was going on at the house. So authorities raced over there, and that's when they found that Mindy McCready had, they say, taken her own life and also killed the family dog that she had and David Wilson had got together after she moved here about a year-and-a-half ago.

Just before taking her own life, she also took the life of the family dog as well. But this is an end of a tragic situation, and really has escalated over the last couple of months. Family members close to McCready, her own father had petitioned to have McCready institutionalized in a mental institution and checked out for up to three weeks.

This was after her emotional situation had changed dramatically after the death of her boyfriend when, interestingly enough, according to the investigators, the sheriff's department here in Heber Springs, is still "an open investigation" and they haven't ruled that as a suicide just yet. That's something they're taking a close look at and will continue to do so, they say. But it is a very tragic ending to a very troubled life that has gone on for some time -- Deborah.

FEYERICK: And the father, did the father or did the family get an indication that she was about to do this? Does that suggest there was some sort of note or some sort of cry for help?

LAVANDERA: We couldn't get that kind of information. The sheriff's office here in Heber Springs says that that's -- those kinds of details are still part of the investigation that they're looking into and haven't done so.

We have tried in other places as well. I think it is a clear indication from the sheriff saying there was a friend that had gotten a call or some sort of message from a family member of McCready suggests there might have been something going on there in the initial moments before the suicide took place.

But the father of their -- of her oldest child has also been trying to fight for custody. Billy McKnight is his name, fighting for custody of their older child. We spoke with his attorney and they said they hadn't had any indication over the last few days that anything was troubling or any vital signs that they had missed.

FEYERICK: All right. Ed Lavandera for us, thank you so much. Such a tragedy and two little children left behind. Thank you.

Well, coming up, new information from the Coast Guard on exactly what stranded that cruise ship last week, information just in to CNN. We're going to have a live report after this quick break.


FEYERICK: Just in to CNN, the first report from the Coast Guard, we're learning more about the fire that crippled the Carnival cruise ship Triumph. Remember? More than 4,000 people were stranded just off coast of Mexico for days when the fire shut down the ship's main power.

Sandra Endo is in Washington with more for us.

Sandra, tell us, how did this fire start?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to U.S. Coast Guard investigators, Deb, they have preliminarily determined the fire on board the Carnival Triumph was caused by a leak in a flexible hose that served as a fuel oil return line for the ship's number six engine generator.

Now, Lieutenant Commander Theresa Hatfield told reporters today the fuel sprayed up and touched a hot surface, which started the fire. Investigators say the crew did a good job in extinguishing the flames and so far they have interviewed 21 passengers and crew members and are continuing their on-site investigation. They expect that to be wrapped up by the end of the week.

Now, the Coast Guard commander says they're also looking into why the ship was inoperable even though some of the backup systems were working. They anticipate it will be six months before everything is completed. And the Bahamian Maritime Authority are the lead investigators on this case, since the ship is registered in the Bahamas -- Deb.

FEYERICK: And, Sandra, did the country at the time, because I know you covered this, you were up there in the helicopter, did the company ever say anything about the backup system or not? ENDO: It's unclear at this point because the investigation is ongoing. We hear reports that sometimes in a case like this when a fire breaks out, even though some backup systems are working, it may be unsafe to fully electrify or keep those systems up and running. So certainly the precautionary measures that are taking place because of an incident like this and we're learning more, though, about the cause of the fire, given that it was a fuel leak now that was in a hose basically that attaches a fuel tank to the engine number six on that ship.

FEYERICK: Very interesting. All right, Sandra Endo, thank you so much. Keep us posted as you get more in. Thank you.

ENDO: Sure.

FEYERICK: It is kind of like a Russian gold rush. People hunting for chunks of that meteorite that streaked across the sky in Russia. Why some say that finding even a tiny piece of the space rock could mean lots of cash. Stay with us.


FEYERICK: Meteor hunters are out in force. They say this moment could mean big bucks for them.

Not every day a meteor falls to Earth, a sonic boom, a meteor shatters, sending fragments across Russia's Ural Mountains. The first fragments were discovered by scientists here near this giant hole in a frozen lake. It is in a remote area of western Siberia that may soon be flooded, not with water, but with people hoping to get their hands on those valuable meteor fragments.

Our Phil Black traveled to the lake. He has more for the hunt on the treasure -- Phil.


PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is where locals say they saw a fragment of the meteor break off when it was still overhead and plummet down towards the Earth, slamming into this frozen lake, Chebarkul.

The ice here is really thick. This lake is frozen for about six months of the year. But locals say that the impact created a huge explosion of ice and snow high up into the air and a big steam cloud as well.

Up on the surface here, scientists have been combing this whole area. And they say that they have found 53 individual pieces of the meteorite. So, although fragments have been found on the surface, a bigger mystery remains, what lies beneath the ice?

Scientists are pretty sure there are even bigger fragments now sitting beneath the ice, beneath 10 meters of water on the bottom of this lake. Some divers have been in to see what they could find, but they say it was very silty, visibility was poor. They found nothing. But they're going to try again in the spring when the snow and ice melts.

And scientists believe that will be the best time to find any fragments that made it to the surface, not just here at the lake, but across the vast snow-covered Siberian wilderness.

Phil Black, CNN, on Lake Chebarkul near Chelyabinsk, Russia.


FEYERICK: Phil Black, thanks.

And you have got to remember this hit with the impact of several atomic bombs. With the meteor fragments fetching as much as $10,000, though, the scientists may find themselves in a race with people who are looking to cash in.