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Pistorius: Fighting to be Released; Motive for Newtown Shooting?; Turkish Police Round Up Militants; Report: Chinese Army Behind Cyber Attacks; Freeing Alan Gross

Aired February 19, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Courtroom drama happening right now. Prosecutors are describing how they say Olympic icon Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend through a bathroom door.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Copycat killer? A report says Newtown shooter Adam Lanza may have been trying to top another mass murderer.

BERMAN: Shanghai secret revealed. Chinese hackers reportedly targeting the U.S. out of this 12-story office tower.

SAMBOLIN: Listen to this, two times two. Four babies beating long odds, be born as two sets of identical twins. Chew on that for a second.

BERMAN: Yes, I can't.

SAMBOLIN: You got twins.

BERMAN: I got one set.

SAMBOLIN: Can you imagine? Four of them.


SAMBOLIN: Yes. We're going to share that story with you. It's really great.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Tuesday, February 19th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's get started because we have to begin with dramatic news overnight. Emotions overflowing in the courtroom and it's happening right now as the Blade-Runner-turned-murder-suspect Oscar Pistorius is appearing in court for a crucial hearing.

Pistorius has been sobbing, breaking down as his defense is angling for bail this morning. Their case denying that the killing was pre- meditated and at one point they even argue that girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's death was not even murder.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has been laying out its case. They say Pistorius put on his prosthetics limbs, walked about 20 feet and then shot through a locked bathroom door killing Steenkamp.

All of this is happening at this very moment with an unprecedented crush of cameras in the courtroom and huge crowds of people trying to get seats inside.

SAMBOLIN: Also happening this morning, Reeva Steenkamp's family will lay her to rest along the southern coast of South Africa.

Nkepile Mabuse is in Port Elizabeth, near the site of Steenkamp's funeral.


NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm outside of Victoria Park crematorium in the sea side town of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape where friends and family of Reeva Steenkamp have gathered to pay their last respects. And more than 1,000 kilometers from here, at the Pretoria magistrate court, Oscar Pistorius is appearing in a court of law accused of her murder.

State prosecutors are arguing that this was premeditated murder, saying that Oscar Pistorius armed himself, attached his legs and shot her repeatedly through a bathroom door. Oscar Pistorius' defense is saying he thought she was a burglar. This argument went on in the morning with Oscar Pistorius sobbing uncontrollably at times. And here people just wanting answers, why did this happen to a person they describe as kind and loving and someone who everybody, they say, loved back?

Nkepile Mabuse, CNN, Port Elizabeth.


SAMBOLIN: And, of course, Pistorius is appearing in court this morning. We're going to have more coverage coming up here shortly -- John.

BERMAN: Also developing overnight, CBS News is reporting that Adam Lanza who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School may have been trying to emulate another mass murderer. The report quotes law enforcement sources say Lanza was obsessed with Anders Breivik. He's the guy who killed 77 people in Norway in 2011 and apparently, Lanza wanted to top that death toll.

Another report says Breivik materials were found in Lanza's home.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is following all of these developments. Good morning, Susan.


The working theory is this, according to law enforcement sources. They're telling CBS News that it's very likely that Adam Lanza wanted to one-up Anders Breivik by shooting as many people as he could in a close setting and trying to match the body count or probably go higher than that. As you just indicated, of course, Breivik killed 77 people in Oslo, Norway, back in 2011, including eight people with a bomb and another 69 people on an island near Oslo, mainly teenager, 69 of them at the time.

Now, there is a report in the "Hartford Courant" today that says the reason that they're speculating about this is possible motive is that they found materials as one might think, you know, how else did he get this idea? He found materials about Breivik in the Lanza home. And that's why they're drawing that as a possibility as to what drove Lanza to this.

And so, it's one of the things they're working on. And they're not solidifying it as yet. The Connecticut state police are saying that this is a speculation at this time and they have not settled on any one motive.

BERMAN: Materials by that, I presume. I guess we can presume it means articles, information, things of that nature.

CANDIOTTI: You would think. You would think that's what it what at minimum.

BERMAN: So, we're also hearing more ties to possible video games.

CANDIOTTI: That's right. We reported all along that they did find video games in the Lanza home. And that he had a fondness for them. In fact, I interviewed some friends of his who remember him liking video games when he was in high school.

And so, the idea being that he was practicing on these video games possibly to hone his skills, to carry out the mass murder that he did.

BERMAN: All right. As we say, this information developing overnight.

Susan Candiotti, thanks for bringing us the latest -- Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: Five minutes past the hour. We're following new developments out of Turkey now, where police in Ankara are said to be rounding up dozens of people suspected of belonging to a leftist militant group. The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at the U.S. embassy in Ankara that was earlier this month.

And new information this morning that a secret unit of the Chinese military is behind a massive computer hacking campaign against the United States. A report by the computer security firm Mandiant says a division of the People's Liberation Army is responsible for sustained hacking attacks against American interests, and maybe operating out of a white 12-story tower in Shanghai. China is blocking out CNN's broadcast signal when we're reporting the story.

BERMAN: A California man facing rape charges this morning for allegedly assaulting a woman he met on the popular dating Web site Police are investigating whether 37-year-old Sean Banks targeted other women on that site. SAMBOLIN: Seven members of Congress led by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy are in Cuba this morning. It is a largest American delegation to that country in recent memory. They are trying to convince the Castro regime to release Alan Gross, an American contractor who was jailed in 2009 for bringing banned satellite equipment into Cuba as part of the State Department program to spread democracy.

BERMAN: Da'Quan Bowers of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers is free on bond this morning after being arrested for illegal gun possession at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Police say the 22-year-old Bowers tried to bring a .40 caliber handgun onboard a flight to Raleigh, North Carolina. The weapon was found inside his suitcase.

Bad idea.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, crazy.

The U.S. Coast Guard says the engine fire that crippled the Carnival cruise ship Triumph was caused by a leak in a fuel oil return line. The leaking oil hit a hot surface and ignited that fire in one of the ship's two engine rooms.

BERMAN: So, call it the bump watch. Today, Kate Middleton makes her first appearance since announcing her pregnancy back in December. The duchess of Cambridge pays a visit to an addiction treatment center in southwest London.

Brace yourself, ladies and gentlemen. This will be the first time, the very first time, the public gets to see her baby bump. And we will bring it to you the very instant we see it.

SAMBOLIN: I guess she's used to being scrutinized, right?

BERMAN: This is a big deal.

SAMBOLIN: OK. Seven minutes past the hour.

A Houston couple is going to need a lot of diapers -- this is a big deal -- after four very rare bundles of joy arrived on Valentine's Day. Thirty-six-year-old Tressa Montalvo just gave birth to a very, very rare form of quadruplets. The four boys, Ace, Blaine, Cash and Dylan are actually two sets of identical twins.

So the chances, folks, of that happening are one in 70 million. And it's even more unusual because the Montalvos did not use fertility drugs or in vitro fertilization. And Tressa says it was not a difficult pregnancy either.


TRESSA MONTALVO, MOTHER OF QUADRUPLETS: Actually, it was a lot better than what I expected. I expected complete misery and it was nothing like that. It was perfect. Perfect.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SAMBOLIN: Perfect. And she looks amazing. The Montalvos have one other son, 2-year-old big brother Memphis. Can you imagine that household? You have twins.

BERMAN: I'm breaking out in hives. I need a drink of water. That's (INAUDIBLE).

SAMBOLIN: That's incredible.

And coming up at 8:30 eastern on "STARTING POINT," proud parents, Tressa and Manuel Montalvo and their newborn sons will be here live.

BERMAN: That will be fantastic. Good luck to them.

Other news this morning: international suspicion over a death of a little boy adopted from Russia. Why officials are calling it suspicious. We'll have that coming up.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, potential problem for Alec Baldwin. A photographer making accusations and the actor now firing back.


SAMBOLIN: Twelve minutes past the hour. Welcome back.

Growing tension this morning over a very disturbing case. Authorities investigating the suspicious death of a little boy who was adopted from Russia. The death of the 3-year-old Max Shatto -- there is his picture right there -- in west Texas comes amid tensions between the United States and Russia over adoption.

A Russian official blames Max's death on inhumane abuse.

David Mattingly has the latest on this ongoing investigation.What can you tell us, David?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, almost all the information we are getting about this case so far is coming from the special human rights representative of the Russian foreign ministry. Konstantin Dolgov says this child was a little over 3 years old when he died on January 21st of this year. A Russian-born boy adopted by American parents living in Texas.

In a statement, Dolgov said, "I would like to draw your attention to another case of inhuman abuse of a Russian child by U.S. adoptive parents." He claims that the child suffered injuries to his head and legs as well as to his abdomen and internal organs. The wounds, he said, could only be caused by strong blows.

There is an investigation under way. The Ector County medical examiner's office tells us they're looking into this because of the, quote, "suspicious nature of the child's death." Texas Child Protective Services is also investigating. The allegations, we're told, include physical abuse and neglect.

Also the Ector County sheriff's office is investigating. A spokesman for the department tells us no arrests have been made and they're waiting for the results of the autopsy.

Now, we try to speak to the boy's adoptive parents. When we called, there was only this brief recorded message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this is a reporter or a news agency, we have no comment.


MATTINGLY: As you might guess, this case is enflaming an already sensitive issue between the U.S. and Russia. You might remember back in 2010 the outrage when an American woman actually put her adopted 7- year-old Russian son on a plane alone and sent him on a one-way flight back to Russia because of violent episodes the child had had.

Now, Russia recently imposed a ban on U.S. adoptions in Russia. This could affect hundreds of U.S. families, a situation that is sure to get worse, Zoraida, if this child's death in Texas proves to be a case of abuse.

SAMBOLIN: I know you're watching this case very closely for us. David Mattingly, thank you.

BERMAN: Fourteen minutes after the hour right now.

A lot of news going on. We're going to bring you up to speed. Christine Romans is here with the headline.


You're right. Just in to CNN, the average price for a gallon of gas has gone up to $3.75 a gallon. This is, if you're counting, the 33rd straight day it increased. During that stretch, prices have gone up about 45 cents in just over a month.

The record high for the national average is $4.14. That was set back in July 2008.

Any moment now, we're expecting to hear a ruling in the bail hearing for "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius. The magistrate set to decide on whether it was premeditated murder. The Olympic star breaking down sobbing at his defense team -- as his defense team denied his girlfriend's killing was premeditated. At one point, they maintained Reeva Steenkamp's death was not even murder. The prosecution says Pistorius put on his prosthetic legs, walked about 20 feet and then shot through a locked bathroom door killing her.

The corruption trial of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick now in the hands of the jury. Deliberations are expected to begin this morning. Kilpatrick, his father and a Detroit construction contractor are accused of engaging in what prosecutors called breathtaking corruption through bribery and extortion. Swiss food giant Nestle is suspending deliveries in Europe of all products that include beef from a German supplier. Traces of horse DNA have been found in the meat. Nestle is also recalling Buitoni brand beef ravioli and beef tortellini from store shelves in Italy and Spain, along with a lasagna products that was sold to French catering firm.

BERMAN: Gross.



ROMANS: Alec Baldwin and a "New York Post" photographer are trading accusations following a weekend confrontation. The photog who was black claims Baldwin used a racial epithet and hurl other insults at him when he and a reporter approached the actor. Baldwin's rep says this claim is absolutely false.

Black Eyed Pea singer Fergie and her husband, actor Josh Duhamel, are expecting their first baby. She took to Twitter to make the announcement tweeting, "Josh and me and baby makes three," followed by the very appropriate hashtag, #mylovelybabybump. Congratulations to them.

BERMAN: Exactly.

SAMBOLIN: She got a lot congratulations on Twitter yesterday.

ROMANS: I bet.

SAMBOLIN: Is this real? Is it true? Good for her, yes.

Seventeen minutes past the hour. Chinese hackers targeting America reportedly out of a Shanghai office tower. That one right there. We're breaking down how costly these hack attacks are to the United States. That's coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you, New York City. Don't you look lovely this morning? Grab a cup of coffee, come on over. We are minding your business this morning.

Stock futures are up slightly as markets reopen after a nice three-day weekend. And this week, we'll get some key reports on housing and manufacturing which should provide insight into the health of the economy.

BERMAN: And brand new this morning, a really shocking report that the Chinese military may be behind hacking targeted at the U.S.

Christine is here with news on that. This is kind of a huge business story.

ROMANS: It is. And it is a business story. And here's why -- because you're talking about intellectual property in the United States. You're talking about companies and what they build and what they make and what they sell around the world. Very concerned about what one group is calling an extensive cyber espionage campaign by the Chinese military. Not only a national security threat. It's also a huge risk to American business.

Economists have no idea how much it actually costs the U.S. economy. But they know it's billions. We've seen estimates everywhere from a few billion to as much as $100 billion a year of lost American business because of Chinese hacking.

And critics of Chinese hacking say what China lacks in innovation, it makes up in the intellectual property theft.

The cyber security firm Mandiant says, "The sheer scale and duration of the sustained attacks against a wide set of industries from a singularly identified group based in China leaves little doubt about the organization behind the group." It calls the hacker group, quote, "Comment Crew," and their attacks since 2006 hit 141 organizations in 20 different industries.

Mandiant says the 115 of those attacks targeted organizations here in the U.S.

The Chinese defense ministry says the military, quote, "has never supported any hacker activities". But outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has voiced concern that a cyber attack could be crippling, citing risks to the power grid, Wall Street, the financial system, our ability to process credit cards.

And earlier this month, the president signed an executive order addressing the most basic cyber security needs mentioning this, again mentioning this in his States of the Union address. The president's order makes it easier for private companies in control of the nation's critical infrastructure to share information about cyber attacks with the government. Both working on standards to help protect companies from cyber crimes.

And, by the way, this report right now that I'm giving you, word on CNN International would be blacked out by the Chinese government. The Chinese government is blacking out all reports about this Mandiant repot, as it often does, actually, as it always does when we talk about cyber security.

Meantime, China has surpassed the U.S. in another major kind of economic milestone, you guys. Flurry Analytics forecasts this month, China will have more smartphone users than the U.S. The growth of China has been really fast. I mean, it has 1.3 billion population.

Here in the U.S., you can see the smartphone use is a little more gradual. But the uptick of smartphones in China, huge.

And that's why American companies want to do business in China. They want access to that market. The down side of that is big concerns about intellectual property. BERMAN: Well, the hacking -- I mean, the size and scope of the hacking story and the apparent connections to the military really puts a lot of pressure on the Obama administration --

ROMANS: It does.

BERMAN: -- to say something, to do something to act here, because this is serious.

ROMANS: When you talk about social property theft outside of hacking, though, I mean, you know, companies have complained for years that the Chinese government doesn't recognize their ownership of a trademark or patent or an idea or a business model.

And the U.S. government has -- in many different administrations has worked very hard with the Chinese on that with little progress, I would say.

BERMAN: Right.

ROMANS: This is would tell you it is little progress.

So, you know, the strategic economic dialogue with the U.S. has with China, these are the types of things they talk about.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: So, new development this is morning on the bad batteries that have grounded Boeing's Dreamliner. More business news. What experts found aboard one of the jets after emergency landing, coming up.

And if -- if -- you happen to be leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to