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Diamond Heist; Newtown Motive?

Aired February 19, 2013 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Christi Paul in for Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for sharing your time with us here. We'll let you know what's happening. If it sounds like the same old mumbo jumbo, it certainly is. There is a serious catch, though, to this month's crisis in Washington. Just for starters, what we're looking at here is a possible loss of 750,000 American jobs by the end of the year if Congress doesn't act in the next 10 days to undo automatic spending cuts that begin March 1.

Congress devised the cuts back in 2011 as a threat, more or less, a way to force itself to agree to a smarter way to reduce the federal deficit. And now 10 days left, still no agreement. As I mentioned, job losses are just the start of it here. We're also talking about some vital government services potentially gone.

In fact, listen, if you would, to the president here. He was clearly concerned as he spoke late this morning.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: FBI agents will be furloughed. Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. Thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off. Tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to be find child care for their kids.


PAUL: The president answer? He says to prevent the cuts, Congress would have to raise some taxes on the wealthy. Republicans certainly don't want that. After the tax increase on the top 2 percent, they say they're finished raising taxes on the well-to-do.

In terms of the economic pain this would trigger, the Pew Research Center has a few more nuggets for us. Defense-related jobs could vanish by the tens of thousands due to severe cuts to the Pentagon. You see just four states there, including Georgia and Virginia, which could lose more than 100,000 jobs each over the next 10 years.

Cuts in grants to the states could lead to big reductions in food aid to the poor, low-income energy assistance, child care and development and other social services as well. And really this is only the start. Again, 10 days left at this point. (NEWS BREAK)

PAUL: All right, the one question almost everyone had after the deadly U.S. school shooting in December was why. Authorities have been mostly tight-lipped about their investigation. But we're now hearing from a source with knowledge of it.

And we're told the shooter, Adam Lanza, may have had a deadly obsession.

Susan Candiotti joins me from New York.

So, Susan, what are we learning about Lanza's obsession with other mass murderers and his behavior just prior to his own mass shooting?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, Connecticut State Police tell me, look, we're dealing with a shooter who is dead and now we're trying to rebuild history. So, they're rebuilding history and trying to answer, why did he do it?

Well, investigators have found evidence that Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza -- quote -- "was obsessed" with other mass murderers, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation. CBS News first reported that Adam Lanza may have been trying to outdo another mass murderer, Anders Breivik in Norway.

He killed 77 people, mainly teenagers, in 2011. "The Hartford Courant" reports that several stories about the 2011 Norway massacre were discovered in one of Lanza's two bedrooms. Connecticut investigators reportedly went to Washington last week to brief federal authorities and shared this theory about a possible motive.

Lanza shot his mother, you will remember, last December, then went to Sandy Hook Elementary and systematically killed 20 children and six teachers before taking his own life when police arrived. Lanza reportedly chose the school because of the large number of potential targets in a closed-in setting.

A spokesman for the Connecticut State Police called the CBS report speculative because no single motive has yet been confirmed. However, the spokesman also told me nothing, including Norway, has been ruled out. The final report on all of this is expected in the next few months -- Christi.

PAUL: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you so much for keeping us up to date. We appreciate it.

And I don't know if you heard, but at least three people have been killed and a gunman dead in a chaotic shooting 25-minute spree that spanned an entire county in Southern California. We're learning it ended when the gunman turned the gun on himself, but not before a series of deadly carjackings, including a cold-blooded curbside execution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CPL. ANTHONY BERTAGNA, SANTA ANA POLICE DEPARTMENT: The suspect was driving a vehicle that he had taken in the Tustin incident. Reports are that he got out of the vehicle, confronted our victim who was in his BMW. I don't have any further on his vehicle.

He orders him out of the vehicle, walks him to the side of the curb and executes our victim. He then gets in the victim's vehicle and drives to the Micro Center, where that incident occurred.

LT. PAUL GARAVEN, TUSTIN POLICE DEPARTMENT: Have they identified the vehicle and when they stopped it, the suspect got out and shot himself.


PAUL: All right, CNN's Nick Valencia is covering this story today.

I know it just happened a little while ago. So what have you learned at this point?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN PRODUCER: Well, little is known still about the suspect. That press conference, it happened about 1:00 p.m. Eastern. They said the suspect was in his 20s. But that's all the details they gave.

I want to take our viewers through the timeline of events here. The first incident happened at about 5:00 local, just before 5:00 a.m. at a home in Orange County where a woman was reported shot dead. The suspect then reportedly left the scene, goes on to carjack an individual, who he shoots. That person is expected to survive.

And this is where it takes a very dark and bizarre turn, Christi. A second person was carjacked. We heard that sound bite there in the press conference where he was executed on the curb in broad daylight. The suspect then flees that scene and goes on the freeway and that's when police start to get reports that there's shots fired on a freeway.

At least three people were hit on the freeway. The suspect then goes to an electronics store, where he attempts a third carjacking, shoots two people there. One of those people perished from their injuries. He then is stopped by police where he dies from a single gunshot wound.

Just a very bizarre twist of -- and fate of events there in Southern California. It seems we were just dealing with something like this in the area. No threat to the public, according to authorities. The suspect is now dead along with three others and three more people are expected to survive from their gun-related injuries.

PAUL: Good heavens. And obviously early in the investigation so we will get more. But, Nick, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

(CROSSTALK) PAUL: Moving on here, the Dow Jones industrial average could crack a new milestone. It's nearing the all-time high of 14164.

CNN's Alison Kosik is at the New York Stock Exchange there to bring us up to speed on today's numbers.

OK, what's driving the bulls here, Alison?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. So, first, let's talk about the bulls for a moment. The bulls are the Dow really.

And the Dow actually hit a new five-year high earlier today. It's not there right now. Also, you have got to remember we're still about 100 points away from the all-time high, 14164. That's really what the number -- the number that investors are really, really looking out for.

Now, if you're feeling like you have heard, hey, like, I have heard five-year high recently, you're right. You're not going crazy. The last five-year high was just last Tuesday. There are several things behind the gains we're seeing. There's some optimism that Congress can cut even a temporary deal, keep those forced spending cuts from happening.

You have still got the Federal Reserve putting its hand in the bucket here, keeping interest rates low. And that means stocks get a better return on your investment compared to bonds. The housing market recovery, that is also stocks. More housing market data is coming out tomorrow.

And all the mergers that we have been talking about with the airlines, with media, with ketchup, and today maybe office supplies even, all that activity, Christi, is a good sign that companies are really doing something with all that cash that they have been keeping on the sidelines and that they're willing to take new risks. It's also another sign of a recovery.

But -- and it's a big but -- if those four spending cuts that go ahead and do take effect on March 1, that really is the wild card because if that happens, you can certainly say bye-bye to this rally -- Christi.

PAUL: All right. Hey, Alison, thank you so much for walking us through it.

Have you heard about the eight masked thieves who broke past airport security through a gate, pulled off what can only be described as an incredible heist? We are going to tell you what they stole and wait until you hear how it happened. Stay close.


PAUL: A Georgia man's life is on the line over just how intellectually disabled he is.

In just a few hours, Georgia plans to execute Warren Lee Hill. There's his picture. The state Supreme Court just this afternoon denied a stay. His lawyers say Hill is mentally disabled and they want his execution stopped saying it would violate a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

But Georgia's lawyers point Hill served in the military, he held a job and state courts have also ruled against stopping Hill's execution. Now, Hill is on death row for killing a fellow inmate while he was serving a life sentence for murdering an ex-girlfriend.

Criminal defense attorney Drew Findling is "On the Case" with us right now.

Here is the thing, Drew. We just said it. The U.S. Supreme Court says you can't execute somebody who is mentally disabled. How did he get on death row?

DREW FINDLING, ATTORNEY: Well, he got on death row because of the antiquity of his case.

The problem he has now is in 49 states all that his attorneys would have to prove is by a preponderance of the evidence that it's more likely than he's mentally retarded. Let me say I hate saying mentally retarded, instead of intellectually disabled. But the United States and particularly Georgia still uses that antiquated, harsh phrase.

PAUL: So that's why we're using it, we would point out

FINDLING: And that's why we're using it.

And the problem is that Georgia is the only state in the United States that requires his attorneys to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he's not mentally retarded. The problem that his lawyers are having is there's nothing else they can do. The three psychiatrists who testified for the state of Georgia previously that he was mentally retarded have now signed affidavits all saying during these 12 years because of the advancements in science and the change of their philosophy as to this issue, they all believe that at the time of the alleged crime he was mentally retarded.

PAUL: Wow. OK. I know that his lawyer, Brian Kammer, has said he has so much support. There are church parishioners that have come out.

Jimmy Carter and his wife, Hill's special ed directors from the school that he attended and even the victim's family I understand do not want him to die. So, is there anything else that can happen to halt this execution?

FINDLING: They have gone up to the Georgia Supreme Court. I understand the Georgia Supreme Court just rejected him. If that happens, then they are going to make a last minute writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court.

And they're going to tell the Supreme Court, hey, you passed the buck to the states, but this is not working, because 49 states apparently have it right. This one state where this guy is in jail is the only one with this incredibly harsh standard. We need you to rethink it and set aside the death penalty.

PAUL: Is Georgia's threshold for this really that much higher than other states?

FINDLING: It is not only so much higher. It's actually being ridiculed in European countries right now.

PAUL: Wow. OK.

Well, listen, let's get -- let's get to California, head west here and talk about this other scenario. Police in the San Diego area have arrested this man, 37-year-old Sean Banks for allegedly raping a woman. Here is the thing. They say he met her through the dating Web site That makes you wonder, how liable do our -- is that Web site when it comes to hooking these two people up?

FINDLING: I don't think it's as much an issue of liability as it is sending the warning sirens out to the people out there.

When you look at Christian Mingle's security issues that they put on their Web site, you learn two things. One, Christian Mingle is just part of a big conglomerate corporation that owns over 20 of these Web sites. In fact, they own Web sites for Jewish dating, for African-American dating, for Hispanic dating. So, the only thing Christian Mingle is looking for is the jingle of coin.

And that puts people on the notice of the fact that this isn't a hands-on dating site. The other thing that they talk about in their Web site is security as it relates to the Internet, protecting your identity from identity fraud and things like that. There's no reference on there as to physical security.

PAUL: OK. So, is that how the Web site protects itself? Because I would think they would hold some liability in some regard. How do these Web sites protect themselves from lawsuits if something like this were to happen?

FINDLING: Well, they tell people to not date somebody that doesn't take no for an answer. They give encouragement like that.

But they have disclaimers all over the place. They're not hands- on. They're not physically meeting with you. They're just giving you the opportunity through the Internet to meet people. I think there's -- it's going to be very difficult to sue them. I think the best thing that people can get out of this is the warning that you have to be really careful in this world of meeting people you truly don't know.

PAUL: Well, and police believe that there could be others out there, right?

FINDLING: Absolutely.

PAUL: Because of this man, specifically linked to this guy. FINDLING: There can be others out there.

And the one thing that those of us that do this for a living, whether it's defense attorneys, law enforcement or prosecutors, there are probably so many of these cases that are not reported, because as you and I both know, so many women are so intimidated in reporting cases of sexual assault because of sometimes the way the system treats them, who knows how many cases are out there that we don't even know about.

PAUL: Drew Findling, thank you so much for being with us.

FINDLING: Absolutely.

PAUL: Good to get your insights.

FINDLING: Absolutely.

PAUL: We appreciate that.

Hey, up next, live in Brussels, Belgium, the story of an incredible airport heist. Stay close.


PAUL: Heavily armed thieves busted into the airport in Brussels and took off with $50 million in diamonds. The whole heist only took a little more than three minutes.

Senior international correspondent Dan Rivers is in Belgium.

They got in and out of this, Dan, without firing a shot or hurting anyone. How did they do it?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's just like something out of "Ocean's Eleven," isn't it, or in this case it's the Brussels eight.

There were eight masked gunmen who cut a hole in the perimeter fence around the runway behind me, drove in, in two cars. They obviously knew exactly where they were going. They went right up to this Swiss-operated airliner that was just about to depart, held up the baggage handlers there, made off with sacks full of diamonds, as you say, $50 million worth, and were back out.

The whole thing took three minutes at the plane and they were only inside the perimeter for 11 minutes and have disappeared. The authorities seem to have absolutely no idea who they are, where they have gone, or if they will ever get those diamonds back.

PAUL: All right, Dan Rivers live for us there, thank you so much, Dan. We appreciate it.

Now let's talk about the death of a young boy in Texas. It's sending shockwaves on the other side of the globe. We are going to tell you why a Russian governor is slamming the U.S. over the death of a 3-year-old child and what it could mean for people looking to adopt Russian children. That story is next.