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Pistorius Charged with Premeditated Murder; Murderous Rivalry?; Chinese Hackers Targeting U.S.?; Royal "Baby Bump" Watch; Brazen Jewelry Heist in Brussels; Titanic II Built in China

Aired February 19, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Happening right now. A key ruling in a murder case against Olympic icon Oscar Pistorius as he breaks down in court pleading for bail.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And a possible motive for Adam Lanza. Was the Newtown gunman trying to outdo another shooter?

BERMAN: Hacker headquarters. This Shanghai office tower said to be where Chinese hackers carried out attacks against the United States.

SAMBOLIN: And a career move by Michael Jackson's son. He's going into the entertainment business, sort of. He's sort of going into our business.

Welcome back to EARLY START. Nice to have you with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is 30 minutes after the hour right now.

SAMBOLIN: And we have new developments right now in the case against Olympic Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius now charged with premeditated murder. We're still waiting for a decision on bail. The hearing is on a lunch break right now and is expected to resume soon.

BERMAN: Joining us now is CNN legal contributor Paul Callan. He's a criminal defense attorney and a former New York City homicide prosecutor.

And the news we're just getting in -- it's just happening this morning -- is a judge in South Africa has determined that they can go forward with this case as a case of premeditated murder. What does that mean for Oscar Pistorius?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Bad things for Oscar, because if it's a premeditated murder case, he faces life in prison under South African law. They don't have the death penalty there, by the way. He could be out after 25 years. But he's unlikely that he'll get bail if there is substantial evidence that this is a premeditated, planned murder.

SAMBOLIN: So, you are part of his defense team. How do you move forward now?

CALLAN: Well, the interesting thing is that press reports have said his defense is going to be this was accident, that he thought maybe there was a burglar who had broken into his house and he fired shots through the bathroom door. By the way, what came out at the hearing today, very interesting, the bathroom only 10 by 10 x 10. He gets up, he puts his blades on, his artificial limbs on, gets his gun, walks 20 feet, 22 feet to exact, to the bathroom and then opens fire. Of course, his girlfriend is in the bathroom, she's hit by three shots, three of the four shots.

Now, if the girlfriend was staying with him that night, and he wakes up in the middle of the night, isn't he going to assume the girlfriend is in the bathroom?

SAMBOLIN: Well, there were --

CALLAN: I'm sure that's what prosecutors will say it.

SAMBOLIN: There were some reports that she did arrive between 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and she was in her night gown. So, how do you argue that?

CALLAN: Well, I don't know. Unless she got into the burglary field as opposed to the modeling field, I would say Blade Runner has got a little problem here.

However, there could be another fact pattern that we don't know about. Maybe she left. Maybe there was a fight. Maybe he's going to claim, I woke up in the middle of night, I heard noises, I thought a burglar was in the bathroom and I fired shots in protection.

BERMAN: One of the most interesting thing that you have both brought up in the last minute or two is the reports in the press about this or that. One of the most interesting things about the South African legal system is it's so different than ours. No jury.

Explain to me the significance of that.

CALLAN: Well, it's a radically different system. It's a judge-based system. They use magistrates. And as a matter of fact, if this case goes to trial, eventually, there could be a plea, of course. But if it goes to trial, a judge -- single judge will hear the case and he'll have two civilian advisers who will sit in on the trial and they can give him their opinion, but he's not bound by it. So, it's a very, very different than the American jury trial system.

And, of course, the police are leaking a lot of information in this case.

SAMBOLIN: Incredible.

CALLAN: I mean, we see that happen in cases in the United States as well. So, that's not surprising, but it can deprive someone of a fair trial.

SAMBOLIN: And there's also no death penalty. CALLAN: There is no death penalty in South Africa. It was eliminated a long time ago. So, that's off the table here. But the difference between a premeditated murder and an accidental murder, huge difference under South African law.

SAMBOLIN: How long before this goes to trial do you think?

CALLAN: Well, a normal case would take a very, very long time. You know, there are inefficiencies in the South African justice system that caused people to think it's a bad system. But I think with a celebrity involved, it will move quickly.

You know, it reminds me of a famous athlete in the United States that got charged with murdering his ex-wife, O.J. Simpson.


CALLAN: Very, very similar to this South African case.

BERMAN: Paul Callan, thanks very much again.

Again, they're having a lunch break right now in South Africa. We are awaiting news about whether Oscar Pistorius will get bail, with this premeditated murder charges, highly, highly unlikely.

Paul Callan, thanks very much.

SAMBOLIN: Great talking to you. Thank you.

CALLAN: OK. Always nice talking to you.

All right. Another developing story this morning. CBS News reports Newtown, Connecticut, gunman Adam Lanza may have been trying to outdo another notorious killer, if you can believe it. Anders Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway. That was back in 2011.

Law enforcement sources say Lanza was motivated by violent video games and a strong desire to kill more people that Breivik. Twenty children and six adults died in the Newtown shooting.

Connecticut police dismiss the CBS report. They are calling it speculation.

BERMAN: So, new information just 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 may be operating out of this nondescript 12-story tower in Shanghai.

Sandra Endo is live in Washington. This is pretty startling news, Sandra. So, how did Mandiant obtain this information?

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, John. The fact that America has been hacked by the Chinese military, that's according to a new report by the American cyber security firm Mandiant. It says it has linked one of the world's most prolific groups of computer hackers to the Chinese government. And the security firm traced the activity of four networks near Shanghai, with some operations taking place in a building, housing a secret division of China's military.

Now, the report claims over a six-year period, hackers have stolen large volumes of intellectual property, blueprints, and business plans. The report does not list, though, the companies that have been hacked.

The Chinese government, on the other hand, dismisses claims, saying China is also the victim of cyber crimes and claim most of their attacks come from the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Internet hacking is an international issue, it should be dealt with through international cooperation based on trust and mutual respect. Making baseless accusations based on premature analysis is irresponsible and unprofessional. And it doesn't help solve relevant issues. China resolutely opposes any form of hacking activities.


ENDO: Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last year, cyber attacks could cripple Wall Street or disrupt the power grid. It's certainly a big concern now.

President Obama addressed the threat of cyber crimes in his State of the Union speech last week and signed an executive order to strengthen the nation's cyber security network -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Sandra Endo in Washington -- no doubt we will be hearing more about this in the coming days. Thanks, Sandra.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-seven minutes past the hour. We're checking the stories trending on CNN this morning.

New York City news anchor Rob Morrison will appear in a Connecticut courtroom today to face domestic violence charges. Morrison, an anchor at WCBS TV, was arrested early Sunday morning in Darien, Connecticut, after allegedly choking his wife, CBS business anchor Ashley Morrison. Police say Morrison made verbal threats against his wife while he's being processed.

BERMAN: So, Burger King clearly not having it their way lately. First, traces of horse meat found in European beef supplier and now, the company's Twitter page has been hacked. Someone substituted the golden arches of McDonald's for the Burger King logo, and made it seem like Burger King had been bought out by its rival.

SAMBOLIN: I know this is terrible, but I laughed hysterically because they were actually very clever when they did this. It's funny.

BERMAN: It's funny. SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. Michael Jackson's oldest son Prince may be the next king of entertainment news. The 16-year-old has become a guest correspondent on "Entertainment Tonight." His first segment, he'll be interviewing the stars of the upcoming film "Oz: The Great and Powerful."

BERMAN: So, years of journalism school, no doubt, paid off for Prince.

SAMBOLIN: Chaos inside a Laundromat. One customer caught on camera unloading on two others. That story is coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, a first-hand look at what it's like to be caught in a ferocious blizzard. We'll tell you all about that, coming up.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. A busy, busy morning.

Soledad O'Brien here with a look ahead with what's on "STARTING POINT".

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR, "STARTING POINT": Lots to talk about this morning. Ahead on "STARTING POINT," brand new, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius, he is now in the middle of his bail hearing as we've been reporting all morning. They have taken a little break. He now faces premeditated murder charges in the death of his girlfriend. At the very same time of his bail hearing, his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp laid to rest. We're going to have team coverage on a developing details right at the top of the hour.

Also, an investigation is underway into the death of a little boy, an adopted boy from Russia who died in Texas. What does this do to the tension that already exist between the two countries and will there be blowback on families who are already trying to adopt from foreign countries? We'll talk with an adoption expert this morning.

And then a woman gives birth to two sets of identical twins. According to the hospital, the chance of that is 1 in 70 million. Tressa and Manuel Montalvo now went from one boy to five boys in their family. We'll chat with this morning as well.

BERMAN: Welcome to mayhem.

SAMBOLIN: I cannot wait to meet them.

O'BRIEN: Twin boys, twice. Crazy!

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Soledad.

Forty-three minutes past the hour. A blizzard with winds topping out at 57 miles an hour -- imagine that -- pounding Grand Forks, North Dakota. Roads had to be shut down yesterday. Emergency crews rescued dozens of people from cars that were stranded in that. Even snowplows had to be called back.

BERMAN: Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN weather center. We're looking at some pretty rough weather in the Midwest, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's right. You know, you saw that video of the blizzard, it brought back memories of that storm a couple of weeks across the Northeast. But it looks like we could see another chance of that popping up as we head tomorrow into parts of the Plains.

So, we start off right now on the radar -- yes, we have rain out there this morning. You can see from New Orleans, affecting parts of Biloxi, Mississippi, as well as into Atlanta. A wet commute out there.

As we move towards the North, we add in a bit of wintry mix for western parts of -- you could see Pennsylvania, as well as New York, and we're also going to be dealing with some travel delays, all due to this low spinning right on top of the Great Lakes and that means for Detroit, Chicago, as well as even for New York, you're going to be looking at delays about an hour or more.

Now, out to the West, some big snow coming down for California, four to six inches. But it's in the planes, for Nebraska and Kansas, that's our big story that we're watching. For tomorrow, we're expecting potentially about a foot of snow to start to come down.

As we head late to the evening, and potential for blizzard. We'll see some wind gusts of 30 miles per hour or greater affecting Kansas, Nebraska, as well parts of Iowa and the other part? Severe weather setting up for Texas.

Today, high temperature is going to be cool up towards north, look at high of only three in Minneapolis. When you add in the wind chill, feels like minus 26 today.



SAMBOLIN: That's awful.


SAMBOLIN: I feel terrible for these folks. You've ever (ph) been so tired of the cold. Jennifer Delgado, thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks, Jennifer.

SAMBOLIN: They were bad news.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-five minutes after the hour right now. And happening right now, court back in session for the murder case against Oscar Pistorius after they had a brief lunch break. The charge against Pistorius was just upgraded to premeditated murder. Now, we are still waiting to hear a ruling on his request for bail, which really seems highly unlikely right now.

The Olympic star sobbing this morning as his defense team denied that his girlfriend's killing was premeditated. At one point, they even maintained that Reeva Steenkamp's death was not even murder. Those are their words.

SAMBOLIN: 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 59-year-old Peterson faces 20 to 60 years in prison. His fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, still missing.

And police in New York City have made an arrest on a brutal Laundromat attack in the Bronx. That was caught on camera. Take a look at this. Investigators say the attacker assaulted the victim and his six-year- old daughter last Saturday, then sprayed them both with mace, because he thought they took his wife's laundry cart. Twenty-seven-year-old Fernando Gonzalez is now facing assault charges.

BERMAN: Awful video.

After a month of hunting, Florida's big python challenge is over in the haul? Shockingly low. So more than 1,600 people took part in the month long snake hunt in the Everglades, but they only caught 68 Burmese pythons out of how many, Zoraida?

SAMBOLIN: Well, there are baring (ph) reports, between 50,000 and 150,000.


BERMAN: OK. So like 68 out of 150,000. State officials have been trying to curb Florida's population of these non-native snakes.

SAMBOLIN: They're everywhere. It seems like it, anyway.

Royal baby bump watch 2013. All eyes are on London today as the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton, makes her first official public appearance since December. She is now four months pregnant.

BERMAN: This is a big, big deal press out in droves. We're watching it very closely. CNN's royal correspondent, Max Foster, live in London right now in the middle of it all. And Max, you know, she's been laying low for quite a while right now. Why this public appearance today?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's supporting her charities. This what she does in her public world. She has a charity which works with addicts, recovering addicts. And, she just arrived about ten minutes ago. We can show you the first official bump pictures. I can reveal that to you now.

She arrived in a tight-fitted dress and many of the fashion reporters who were hoping she wouldn't wear a coat, and they were satisfied as she came in. And a bump clearly visible, as you can see. There was some controversy about this bump, because there were some paparazzi pictures of her on holiday in mystique that showed that bump. But this is the first time she's been out officially. Paparazzi pictures weren't shown in the UK. So this is the first time the UK has seen her out and looking pregnant.

BERMAN: Indeed. Zoraida and I, we are glued to the screen right now, looking at those picture. This just in, folks. The first official photographs of the duchess of Cambridge with that baby bump. You're seeing it now for the first time. Max Foster live in the middle of a press mayhem in London. Thanks for being with us this morning.

SAMBOLIN: It's really nice to see her looking healthy after she had to spend all that time in the hospital early on. So that's good news.

BERMAN: Fantastic. All right. New word this morning of a brazen jewelry heist at an airport. We're going to have that story coming up.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, nine golfers all sinking a hole in one? The story behind this video.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty-two minutes past the hour. New this morning, a big jewel heist, I would say so, at the Brussels Airport. Police say eight masked thieves and two vehicles stole $50 million worth of diamond stones. They reportedly cut a hole in a security fence at the airport, drove onto the tarmac, and robbed the diamonds from a Swiss bound plane before speeding off.

BERMAN: Wow. All right. Sad news from the sports world. Los Angeles Lakers long-time owner, Jerry Buss, passed away yesterday in Los Angeles.

Vince Cellini is here with more on this story in our Bleacher Report. Hey, Vince.

VINCE CELLINI, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning. The Lakers' Jerry Buss was many things, owner, innovator, L.A. playboy, but most of all, he was a winner. He died Monday at age of 80 after a long battle with cancer. A Ph.D. in physical chemistry, Buss made his fortune in real estate, bought the floundering Lakers in 1979, and turned them into showtime, winning 10 championships, earning 16 trips to the NBA finals.

From Kareem to Magic to Shaq and Kobe, the Lakers were Hollywood cool, and they will remain a family business. Daughter Jeanne Buss will control business aspects of the team and son Jim Buss will control basketball decisions.

Commissioner David Stern, NBA commissioner, released a statement, "The NBA has lost a visionary owner." He goes on to say, "More importantly, we lost a dear and valued friend. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."

Well, the best player in women's college basketball, Brittney Griner of Baylor, scoring the 3,000-point of her career last night in a physical game all around. Look at Griner and UConn Stefanie Dolson get tangled up and Dolson gets the worst of it, crashing to the floor. Griner kept her focus late in the game, catching fire, knocking down jumpers, and then, finally, a free throw gave her her 3,000-career point. She's only the eighth player to reach that milestone as number one Baylor beat Uconn, number three, 76-70.

And finally, a terrific piece of video from Campbell University's PGA Golf Management Program. Nine golfers lining up simultaneously (INAUDIBLE) and each and every ball times the cup. What teamwork. And did we mention this is their classroom?

For all your entertaining sports news, we remind you to go to More on the passing of the Lakers owner and all of your sports news right there. Right now, we go back to John and Zoraida.

BERMAN: All right. Thanks a lot, Vince.

CELLINI: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: A full-sized seaworthy replica of the Titanic built in China. What could possibly go wrong, folks?


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Titanic fans may soon get a chance to be king or queen of the world. An Australian billionaire is building a represent of the famous ship. This is happening in China. The Titanic II is slated for its maiden voyage in 2016. And the fear of icebergs is not scaring off potential passengers.

Forty thousand people have already expressed an interest in tickets and more than a third of them are from China. I was doing a little research online. They're saying that maiden voyage could cost up to a million dollars a seat.

BERMAN: I'll never let go. Never let go, Jack. Never let go.

That's all for EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.