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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

Pistorius Charged with Premeditated Murder; Police Raids in Turkey; Newtown Shooter Inspired by Norwegian Shooter?; Britain Awaits Official Unveiling of Kate's Baby Bump

Aired February 19, 2013 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now: Olympic icon Oscar Pistorius in court for the murder of his girlfriend. His lawyers are arguing for bail. And officials are moments away from making a ruling on whether the murder was premeditated.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's a big decision.

Meanwhile, a possible motive for Adam Lanza. Was the Newtown gunman trying to outdo another killer?

SAMBOLIN: And it is the last chance for ex-cop Drew Peterson. The convicted killer's lawyers with a final appeal today before tomorrow's sentencing.

BERMAN: And a career move for Michael Jackson's son. He's going into the entertainment business -- sort of.

So welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Tuesday morning. It is 28 minutes past the hour. We're happy you're with us.

And we begin with the story, with dramatic developments happening right now in the case of Oscar Pistorius. The Blade-Runner-turned- murder-suspect is in court right now. He is seeking bail. The magistrate just ruled, quote, "He can not completely exclude premeditated murder and planning."

Pistorius breaking down, he was sobbing. His defense denies the killing was premeditated and at one point argued girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp's death was not even murder. The prosecution maintains Pistorius put on his prosthetic limbs and walked 20 feet and then shot through a locked bathroom door killing Steenkamp.

And all of it happening within unprecedented crush of cameras in the courtroom and huge crowds of people trying to snag a seat inside the courtroom.

BERMAN: The big news there, of course, though, is the magistrate in South Africa ruling that they are going to go ahead with this case accusing him of premeditated -- premeditated murder. The magistrate there saying he cannot rule out that possibility.

SAMBOLIN: Can't rule it out.

BERMAN: Interesting.

All right. As this is happening, as he is being denied bail in that courtroom in South Africa, Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp is being laid to rest along the southern coast of South Africa. Nkepile Mabuse reports from Port Elizabeth near the site of Steenkamp's funeral.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing outside Victoria Park crematorium in the seaside 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 a thousand kilometers from here at the Victoria magistrate's court. Oscar Pistorius is appearing in a court of law accused of her murder.

State prosecutors are arguing that this is 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 that she was a burglar. These arguments went on in the morning with Oscar Pistorius sobbing uncontrollably at times.

And here, people just want two 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: All right. Our thanks to Nkepile Mabuse. Again, the news just out of South Africa, the magistrate there, the judge ruling that he cannot rule out the possibility that the murder there, the shooting from Oscar Pistorius to his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He cannot rule out that it was premeditated. They're going ahead with this case. He's being charged with premeditated murder.

SAMBOLIN: And that should officially deny bail as well. I was reading. We have not confirmed that, but it should. We'll get those details for you.

Thirty-one minutes past the hour now. Also new this morning, police raids in Turkey targeting members of a leftist militant group that has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at the American embassy in Ankara. That was earlier this month.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Istanbul, Turkey with more details for us. Good morning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Zoraida. That's right. Turkish police conducting country wide operations targeting at least 167 (INAUDIBLE). SAMBOLIN: I'm terribly sorry. We've lost Ivan there. We're going to try to get him back for you. There he is. There we go. Sorry about that, Ivan. We lost you there for a moment.

WATSON: Hi, Zoraida. It looks -- hi. It happens. It happens. But that's right. The Turkish police arresting more than 100 people believed to be linked to a violent leftist group called DHKPC, the revolutionary people's liberation party front which claimed responsibility for this deadly suicide bombing on February 1st against the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital that killed a Turkish guard and wounded a Turkish journalist.

Now, there was a member of this group named Ejuvet Shunly (ph) who was believed to be the suicide bomber. He had served prison time before being released in 2000 after going on a hunger strike and suffering brain damage as a result of malnutrition. He is believed to have been the bomber. The group, itself, published a manifesto and gave its reasons behind the attack.

It claimed that the U.S. was carrying out an imperialistic agenda in the Middle East. It voiced opposition to the deployment of U.S. anti- missile patriot missile batteries that have been deployed in the last month in Turkey to protect Turkish cities from the war in neighboring Syria. This group accused the U.S. of trying to colonize Syria itself.

The irony here, Zoraida, is that the rebels inside Syria are very angry at the U.S. for not providing enough support, not providing them weapons in their battle against (INAUDIBLE)

SAMBOLIN: That was CNN's Ivan Watson reporting live from Istanbul, Turkey. We apologize for those problems that we're having with his microphone. I'm sorry. With his microphone.

BERMAN: It's a long way away, but Ivan is doing his best to report that story for us.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-four minutes past the hour. Developing story this morning,

CBS News quotes law enforcement sources saying Newtown gunman, Adam Lanza, was driven by violent video games and an obsession to kill more people than Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway. That was back in 2011. They say Lanza targeted Sandy Hook Elementary School because it was the easiest target with the largest cluster of people.

Twenty children and six adults died at Sandy Hook. Connecticut police dismiss the CBS report calling it speculation.

BERMAN: So, new limits on police presence in city schools. Today, police in Denver public school officials will sign an agreement that specifically denies when police officers should step in and when educators should, instead, handle problems with students. They're hoping the agreement will cut down on the number of Denver students ticketed or arrested in school. SAMBOLIN: And former Chicago area police sergeant Drew Peterson will be in court today making a last ditch bid for a new trial. Peterson was convicted last fall of first-degree murder in the 2004 bathtub drowning of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Sentencing is set for tomorrow. The 69-year-old Peterson faces 20 to 60 years in prison. His fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, by the way, is still missing.

BERMAN: Some big business news. Officials in Japan say they have discovered a problem in a second battery onboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner that was forced to make an emergency landing last month after its main battery failed. The officials say a slight swelling was found in the auxiliary power unit's battery cells.

The FAA grounded all 50 Dreamliners following the incident in Japan and a battery fire in a Boeing 787 that was parked on tarmac at Boston's Logan Airport.

SAMBOLIN: And investigators are trying to figure out what caused a fire that killed three young children in an apartment fire. This is in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities say the children -- my goodness, three-year-old twins and a one-year-old girl may have been left alone in the apartment by their parents.

BERMAN: The parents of a pregnant 16-year-old Texas girl who tried to force their daughter to get an abortion have had a change of heart after she took them to court. They've given her permission to carry the baby and marry the father, 16-year-old Evan Madison. Madison spoke last night to CNN's Piers Morgan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EVAN MADISON, BABY'S FATHER: I knew it wasn't going to be easy at all, but I really didn't imagine this all happening. But I knew that some of her parents, many of her family were going to have a definitely a negative reaction. But I never intended on this happening. We're always determined to have a baby.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The girl claimed her mother threatened to slip her an abortion pill and took away her phone and car to pressure her into aborting that child.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-six minutes past the hour. Florida's big python hunt is over, and the final tally is -- incredibly underwhelming. More than 1,600 people took part in the month long Florida Everglades python challenge, but they caught only 68 Burmese pythons. State officials have been trying to curb Florida's population of non-native snakes.

BERMAN: Just 68, huh?

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Apparently, they're really difficult to actually shoot.

(LAUGHTER) BERMAN: Let someone else try to catch them.

All right. Big news in entertainment. Michael Jackson's eldest son, Prince, may be the next king of entertainment news. The 16-year-old has become a guest correspondent on "Entertainment Tonight." His first assignment, interviewing the stars of the upcoming film, "Oz: The Great and Powerful." Welcome to the business, Prince.

SAMBOLIN: It is fun to see him. So, missing at sea. Coming up, the search under way right now after a small boat and its crew vanishes.

BERMAN: And the whole world waiting on a royal revelation. Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. It is coming, the Duchess of Cambridge about to show off her baby bump for the first time. We are live in London coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: This just in. New information from a courtroom in South Africa. The charge against Olympic icon, Oscar Pistorius, has been upgraded to premeditated murder. The judge at his bail hearing under way right now said he could not exclude the possibility of premeditation and planning in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The prosecution had argued that Pistorius killed Steenkamp, that it was murder, and that it was premeditated. So, this really makes it very unlikely that Pistorius will get bail. The judge did not rule out downgrading the charge, perhaps, later.

BERMAN: Major developments. Again, those just now.

Also happening right now, a desperate search for a missing fishing boat and five crew members off the coast of Nova Scotia. Canadian officials say the miss alley set out an emergency signal late Sunday night. Rescue teams report seeing a life raft yesterday morning, but they're not sure if anyone was in it. And they lost sight of it.

SAMBOLIN: Chuck Hagel is hoping a letter he sent to his biggest critics will clear the way for him to become the next Secretary of Defense. In the letter, Hagel insists he did not call the U.S. State Department an adjunct to the Israeli government in the 2000 speech at Rutgers University.

BERMAN: So, a new study claims that watching television can improve young children's behavior if they're watching the right shows. Researchers studied about 600 families for a year. They found the preschoolers who watched less violent and more child appropriate shows scored better on tests measuring cooperation, sharing, and compromise. I'd like to introduce those words to my children.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: They also had fewer instance of aggressive behavior.

SAMBOLIN: News flash, news flash, that kind of makes sense, right? All right. It turns out Michelle Obama's much talked about new haircut, the bangs, was actually the result of a midlife crisis on her 49th birthday. The First Lady telling talk show host Rachael Ray that she could not buy a sports car and she's not allow to bungee jump, so instead, she went and she got bangs.

BERMAN: Why it'd be lauded --

SAMBOLIN: Interesting.

BERMAN: The most talked about bangs in the world.

We're going to go for the most talked about bangs in the world to most talked about bump in the world. It is the bump that everyone has been waiting to see. All eyes are on London as the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, makes her first official public appearance since December.

SAMBOLIN: And CNN's royal correspondent, Max Foster, is live in London. And he is on baby bump watch. So, Max, Kate's been laying low for a while. Why is she making a public appearance today? Do tell.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a charity that she supports. It's Action on Addiction. So, this is a safe house for women who are recovering addicts. And she's here to support them. She's going to get involved in therapy in the basement and some cooking. But as you say, it's all about the bump.

Let's have a look at the amount of press that's turned out for this small engagement. So, it would normally (INAUDIBLE), but there are photographers from all the agencies, TV reporters from all the networks, satellite trucks going straight down the street, an extraordinary amount of interest today. And this is the first time we're going so see her in an official engagement, as you say, since those photographs were published in an Italian magazine of her in a bikini with a baby bump.

Those pictures weren't shown in the UK. But these pictures will be, to some extent, as well across the country and around the world. Have to say one of the big talking points today, though, is also this extraordinary outburst, a very well-known and well-regarded author has attacked the duchess.

Just one quote from her, "She scorned her as a personality free shop window mannequin with a plastic smile." So she's coming some criticism, but today is her chance to give a smile to the public.

SAMBOLIN: Wow!

BERMAN: Intrigued.

SAMBOLIN: That's mean spirited. She's only 4 1/2 months pregnant. So, I don't know how much of a bump we're going to see, but --

BERMAN: Well, let's wait and see. (CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Yes. We're glad you're covering for us this morning, and we'll be checking in. Thank you.

It is 44 minutes past the hour. Chaos inside a Laundromat. One customer caught on camera unloading on two others. Take a look at that.

BERMAN: Really shocking.

SAMBOLIN: That's coming up for you.

BERMAN: Plus, a first-hand look at what it's like to be caught in a ferocious blizzard. This is a bad one. We'll show you more coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: It is 48 minutes past the hour. Let's get you up to date. Here's Christine Romans with some of our top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I know. A lot going on this morning, you guys. Happening now --

A court has upgraded the charges against blade runner, Oscar Pistorius, to premeditated murder. We're still waiting to hear a ruling on his request for bail. But this ruling makes it very unlikely. The Olympic star sobbing this morning as his defense team denied his girlfriend's killing was premeditated.

At one point, they maintained Reeva Steenkamp's death was, quote, "not even murder." The prosecution says Pistorius put on his prosthetic limbs, walked about 20 feet, then shot through a locked bathroom door, killing Steenkamp.

As Pistorius is in court, Reeva Steenkamp's family will lay her to rest. Her funeral happening on the southern coast of South Africa right now. It's a private ceremony with no media allowed.

A possible motive for the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting. CBS News reports that law enforcement sources say Adam Lanza may have set out to outdo Norway killer, Anders Breivik, who massacred 77 people in 2011. Lanza killed 26 people, including 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. Connecticut State Police dismissed this report as speculation.

Seven members of Congress led by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy are in Cuba this morning. It's the largest American delegation to that country in recent memory. They're 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 a State Department program to spread democracy.

Police in New York City have arrested a suspect in connection with a brutal Laundromat attack in the Bronx. It was caught in camera. Investigators say the attacker assaulted the victim and his six-year- old daughter last Saturday then sprayed both of them with mace because he thought they took his wife's laundry cart. Twenty-seven-year-old Fernando Gonzalez (ph) is now facing assault charges.

And now, the President Hugo Chavez has announced his return to Venezuela. The question is, will he be sworn in today? The Venezuelan government releasing these photos of Chavez while he was still in Cuba last week flanked by his two daughters. In a tweet announcing his return to the homeland, Chavez said he'll be continuing his treatments in Venezuela.

They survived "Survivor", but marriage, apparently, was a far greater challenge. After ten years together, reality show couple, Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca, have decided to call it quits. The two former survivor winners competed together on "Amazing Race."

BERMAN: I can't believe that a couple have met on a reality show. I can't believe that it didn't work out.

ROMANS: It is unreal --

(CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Just cynical.

BERMAN: Fifty 50 minutes after the hour right now, and a blizzard with winds clocked at 57 miles an hour pounding Grand Forks, North Dakota. Roads had to be shut down yesterday. Emergency crews, the emergency crews rescued dozens of people from stranded cars, even snow plows had to be called back.

SAMBOLIN: Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN Weather Center. Some pretty rough weather in the Midwest. I think that's probably an understatement, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. You know, and it looks like we can also see the possibility of blizzard conditions popping up once again as we go through late tomorrow. We start off right now, very wet out there. You can see a line of storm streaming all the way down from Louisiana, New Orleans, all the way up to regions, including parts of Detroit.

Now, you can see the stronger storms down towards the south, and that's where we're going to start. So, if you're heading out the door this morning, yes, you're going to be dealing with wet roadways and the same for Atlanta. So, flying out this morning, yes, you're going to be looking at some extra time at the airport.

As we look up towards north, notice some lake-effect snow still coming down right along the western part of Michigan and that includes parts of Grand Rapids. And more on those travel delays, as I said to you, especially in the Great Lakes, because we're going to be looking at wind gusts in some of these locations up to about 40 miles per hour.

So, those delays for areas like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, oh, yes, you're going to be hanging around at that airport today. Now, as we talk about some of the winter weather that's going to be popping up, for areas like California, you're going to see about four to six inches of snowfall today.

Ten to 12 is going to be setting up across the plains. Now, as I said to you from the plains, we are going to see the potential for blizzard conditions to develop late tomorrow night as well as into Thursday. It's all going to be from the same storm coming out of the Four Corners with wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour and a foot of snow possible for parts of Kansas as well as Nebraska.

We're talking about a big ol' mess out there. And then the other part of the story for tomorrow, the chance for severe weather for parts of Texas and that includes Dallas, and overall, it looks like, Zoraida and John, we potentially could see about four to six inches of rainfall in parts of the south as we go through the next five days.

SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

DELGADO: Five days. That's too much rain.

SAMBOLIN: At least forewarned. Jennifer Delgado, thank you.

Fifty-three minutes past the hour. A full-sized seaworthy replica of the Titanic built in China. What could possibly go wrong?

BERMAN: What could possibly go wrong?

SAMBOLIN: More coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Just a few minutes before the hour right now. The top CNN Trends on the web this morning. Burger King -- Burger Cling.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: Burger King, clearly, clearly not having it their way lately. First, traces of horse meat were found at a European supplier. That was bad enough. But now the company's Twitter page has been hacked.

SAMBOLIN: Kind of funny.

BERMAN: Someone substituted the golden arches of McDonald's for the Burger King logo and made it seem like Burger King had been bought out --

SAMBOLIN: They said it had been bought out. Yes. Not nice. Not nice.

All right. Titanic fans. You may soon get your chance to be king or queen of the world. An Australian billionaire is building a replica of the famous ship in China. The Titanic II is slated for its maiden voyage in 2016. And the fear of icebergs isn't scaring off potential passengers. 40,000 people have already expressed an interest in tickets and more than a third of them are from China. BERMAN: It just seems, you know --

SAMBOLIN: Yes --

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: All right. To check out the other top CNN Trends, head to CNN.com/Trends.

SAMBOLIN: And the late night comedians can't seem to get enough of the stranded at sea Carnival cruise story, but it was President Obama's guys weekend with Tiger Woods that got the side eye from Jimmy Kimmel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": President Obama celebrated this weekend by playing golf with Tiger Woods. Obama took a three-day golf vacation to Florida while the First Lady took their daughters to Colorado to ski. You know you have a good marriage when you say, sure, honey, go have a good guy's weekend with Tiger Woods.

(LAUGHTER)

KIMMEL: Stop by the Hooters and have some wings.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": The passengers, you know, what a story. Like 4,000 people floating around going nowhere in the Gulf of Mexico. They finally just ran aground somewhere near Alabama. And --

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: -- everybody was able to get off. I think we have footage. Is this the footage? This is live footage I think from CNN of the passengers -- this is the passengers getting off -- this is the passengers getting off the Carnival cruise, Triumph. Take a look at this. There they are.

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN: Oh, My god!

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BERMAN: They kid because they love. EARLY START continues right now.