Return to Transcripts main page


Oscar Pistorius Charged with Premeditated Murder; Turkish Authorities Make Arrests in Connection to Attack on American Embassy; Jewel Heist Takes Place in Brussels; New Information on Motive for Sandy Hook Shooting

Aired February 19, 2013 - 07:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. We begin with breaking news this morning. Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius reveals why he shot his girlfriend, as a judge decides if the so-called Blade Runner can get out of jail.

And while he's before a judge, Reeva Steenkamp's family lays her to rest. It's all happening right now. We've got live team coverage coming to us from South Africa.

Also, a developing story we're following as well. Shocking new report that links the Chinese military to multiple U.S. computer hacks.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And more breaking news. CNN learning that eight masked thieves have made off with $50 million worth of diamonds at Brussels Airport. We're going to go there live in just a moment.

Plus, it is a one in 70 million chance. Not only that a Texas woman gave birth to quadruplets, but they are two sets of identical twins. Coming up, meet Manuel and Theresa Montalvo and the kids, live.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And new problems this morning for the Boeing Dreamliner. New trouble discovered with its batteries. I'll have that and more in my business report.

O'BRIEN: It is Tuesday, February 19th, and STARTING POINT begins right now.

All right, welcome, everybody. Let's begin with some breaking news this morning in the Oscar Pistorius murder case. Pistorius is now releasing a statement about premeditated murder charges against him saying this, "I fail to understand how I could be charged with murder as I had no intention to kill my girlfriend." At his bail hearing, which is still going on as we speak, the judge ruling that premeditated murder charge, the severest charge in South African law, will stand. And that makes it highly unlikely that the Olympian, accused of killing his girlfriend, will be given any kind of bail.

These new pictures of Pistorius in court this morning. He was sobbing throughout the entire proceeding. His attorney revealed why -- you know, sort of the discussions they are having around what has happened here.

It is -- what, 2:00 in the afternoon now in South Africa. They have taken a break in the bail hearing. The first part of the bail hearing coincided with the burial of Reeva Steenkamp, of course. And they did not send a representative to the Pistorius family to the burial of Steenkamp, thinking it was inappropriate.

BERMAN: It has been a day so far of major legal setbacks for Pistorius. The judge determining he will be charged with premeditated murder, which, again, makes it very unlikely that he will be eligible for bail. The judge there saying that it does seem there is enough evidence that he cannot rule out the possibility of planning and premeditation. And just for the first time, that statement for Pistorius, he is too upset to make a statement himself, that he had no intention to kill his girlfriend. Very interesting language there.

ROMANS: Prosecutors say he got up, put on his prosthetic legs, took his gun, and he fired into the room where he was locked behind the door. That is what the state is saying. They're saying, how much time he thought about it or planned about it, that is planning in their view.

BERMAN: The state did convince the judge. No juries in South Africa.

O'BRIEN: The two sides gave very different accounts of what happened. The prosecutor had said, in fact, Pistorius fired four times through that bathroom door. And as he was sort of relaying the prosecution's version of how it went down, Pistorius was sobbing through the entire bail hearing. His side, the defense attorney, said the shooting was not premeditated. He said that Pistorius shot his girlfriend, believing she was a burglar. The prosecution has doubted that assertion because, of course, all of the pieces of evidence we know. She was in a bathroom, apparently sitting on the toilet. At one point, a gunshot went through her hand and into her head.

There's a lot of questions as to what happened, and about the cricket bat as well. John Kelly is a former prosecutor. He's worked on many high-profile wrongful death suits, including Nicole Brown Simpson, Kathleen Savio, Drew Peterson's ex-wife. Thank you for joining us. so walk us through. There is a lot of differences of how the law works here and in South Africa. Right now we have the prosecution present their version of what happened and you have the defense also sort of present Oscar Pistorius' version.

JOHN Q. KELLY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: This is very similar to U.S. courts. A judge will decide whether Pistorius is granted bail or not. We will look at the charges against him, the strengths of the places against him, whether is he a flight risk, whether he has strong opportunity ties or not. That's what they are developing right now. I think the real focus is the crime itself.

O'BRIEN: The details are --

KELLY: The devil in the details. And I'm quite surprised that this early on he seems to belonging himself into a defense into intruder in the bathroom and he shot through the door four times. O'BRIEN: Very big challenges to that.

KELLY: What he should have done is laid low, listened to the evidence, how the forensic evidence developed, and then plot his line or keep quiet on the intruder thing. He could have said she went in there to try to take a bottle of pills, that she was going to slit her wrists, that he was in a steroid rage, that he was maybe blacked out because he had taken Ambien the night before and doesn't remember the whole thing. The intruder thing seems like the least likely scenario.

O'BRIEN: Or it could be true or he could be arguing what he truly believed. I'm going to ask you to stick around for a moment. We're going to go to Robyn Curnow. She has been in court for our early morning, but into the afternoon in South Africa. Robyn, walk us through how the bail hearing went.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I missed the last part of your question there, but I'll go ahead and talk. It was a very dramatic, quite sad, overwrought morning. A court that fits 60 people and about 150 were jammed in there, hot, steamy. And you could feel the tension and pressure as different sides argued over whether it was war anted to charge him with premeditated murder.

Throughout all of the process, Oscar Pistorius was not coping well. Every so often he would burst into tears, he would sob. I know hearing from a colleague of mine inside the court says he is crying and heaving, hyperventilating so much that the magistrate has had to tell him to literally calm down, give him five minutes and told him to get himself together, because he can't afford to have this adjourned all the time.

It's a very emotional scene. Oscar's family putting their hand on him. They can touch him over the chairs from where they are sitting. All in all I think it's probably a realization he is in a lot of trouble, and the premeditated murder is now going to be part of the defense's -- they will have to defend this premeditated murder. Rather than murder, makes it all the more serious. The onus is on them to prove that he didn't do it, or there are some exceptional circumstances.

So really we will be hearing now over this afternoon in South Africa more details and how Oscar's trying to defend himself.

O'BRIEN: The bail hearing continues on. Just after 2:00 in South Africa. That keeps going. The prosecution presented their version of what happened that night. What has Oscar Pistorius' defense attorney said about his version of what happened?

CURNOW: Well, we are just getting that. I'm outside here talking to you and my colleagues are inside in the courtroom sort of sending text messages and they are reading out an affidavit. From what I understand, Oscar Pistorius says "I fail to understand. I didn't intend to kill my girlfriend." Basically at the start of the affidavit, saying he didn't do it. That is being read by his lawyers. I spoke to his uncle, and he said Oscar couldn't read it. He wasn't in a state to do that. O'BRIEN: Robyn Curnow will head right back into the bail hearing so we can get the full reporting on the other side of what happens. Thank you, Robyn. I want to ask you one final question before I let you go. He framed it I didn't intend to kill my girlfriend. I would imagine "intend" word is --

KELLY: The buzzword, sure. But they're going to be looking back, apparently security was called to the house a couple hours earlier, a reported domestic dispute, arguments between the two. She had been there for about 10 hours, so it's very difficult to, you know, sell this intruder thing and that it was all an accident. And I'm sure he's upset, but it might be sincere, might be alligator tears, but you will be upset when you are finding out you are charged with premeditated murder. You won't get out on bail and facing a mandatory life sentence. So he's in a very difficult position right now.

O'BRIEN: We continue to watch this, because as we mentioned, the first half of the bail hearing has happened. They're now back in session for the second part of this bail hearing, where the defense, Oscar Pistorius' defense team will present what happened, his version of what happened on that evening. So much more information to follow. Thank you for talking to us.

KELLY: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Another breaking news story we're following for you, this one out of Turkey, police making more than 100 arrests in connection to the deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara earlier this month. We remember that. Our CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in Istanbul with the very latest details on that. Ivan, good morning.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. Turkish police have fanned out across the country, arresting more than 100 people believed to be linked to a terrorist, leftist organization called the DHKPC, or "Revolutionary People's Liberation Party Front." This group claimed responsibility for the February 1st deadly suicide -- female Turkish journalist. And the bomber was a suspected member of this group who had served prison time in Turkey for attacking a police station with a rocket. He was released after he gone on a hunger strike.

And this group claimed that it attacked the U.S. embassy, because it's angry about the deployment of U.S. patriot missiles in Turkey to protect it from the war in neighboring Syria. The irony here is that the Syrian rebels in Syria are accusing the U.S. of not doing enough to help them against the Syrian regime, and this leftist group, Soledad, angry at the U.S. also accusing it of imperialist regime change in Syria. So you can't win one way or the other here. Soledad?

O'BRIEN: Ivan Watson for us this morning, appreciate the update.

Happening right now, a new report claims a secret unit of the Chinese military is behind a massive computer hacking against the United States. Reports of a cyber-division of the people's liberation army is behind sustained hacking attacks against American interests and also might be operating out of a white 12-story tower in Shanghai. China is blacking out CNN's broadcast signal whenever we talk about this story. CNN's Sandra Endo has the very latest for us. She's live in Washington D.C. That's interesting. Every time we mention Chinese hacking, if they are following us in China, this part of the broadcast drops out.

SANDRA ENDO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Soledad. And even our Beijing correspondent has had a difficult time reporting this story from China. And it's really all about the new report from 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. The security firm traced the activity of four networks near Shanghai with some of the operations taking place in a building housing a secret division of China's military.

The report claims over on a six-year period hackers have stolen large volumes of international property, blueprints, and business plans. The report does not list the companies that have been hacked. The Chinese government dismissed the claims, saying China is also a victim of cyber-crimes and claims most of the attacks come from the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Internet hacking is an international issue and 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: Of course, this is a big concern for President Obama and the administration here. President Obama signing executive order last week to strengthen the nation's cyber security network.

O'BRIEN: Sandra Endo for this morning, thank you.

Another breaking news story to get to this morning, a daring $50 million jewel heist happened at the Brussels airport. Police say eight masked thieves in two vehicles cut a hole in a security fence, drove onto the tarmac, stole diamonds from a Swiss-bound airplane. It sounds like the plot from a movie. Our senior international correspondent Dan Rivers is en route to Brussels this morning. He joins us by phone. Walk us through what happened. Was this essentially an inside job, Dan?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Soledad, we don't know for sure what level of collusion there was, but we're being told they cut a hole in the perimeter fence of the airfield and simply drove on to the airfield, pulled up right alongside the plane where a huge cache of diamonds was being loaded.

The figure we have is they got $60 million worth of diamonds. But that may go up because there's a report that there may have been gold and palladium as well. There could be a huge amount of money involved here. And the sheer audacity, it is like the plot of an "Oceans 11" film or something. The only evidence recover the so far is there say van that was found on fire near the airport, they are trying to cover their tracks and get rid of any evidence, and the eight men have disappeared with the diamonds.

O'BRIEN: It certainly does sound like a movie plot. Lots of questions remain of how they would get access of the information from the plane and where to cut through the fence, et cetera. Dan Rivers on his way to Brussels to cover that story for us. Thanks, Dan, appreciate it.

I want to get right to John Berman with more stories. Lots of breaking news this morning that we're starting with.

BERMAN: News breaking out all over the place this morning. We are following a blizzard with winds topping out at 57 miles an hour, paralyzing Grand Forks, North Dakota right now. Roads had to be shut down yesterday, and emergency crews rescued dozens from stranded cars. Even snow plows had to be called back the snow was so bad. Jennifer Delgado is in the CNN weather center. Some pretty rough weather we're seeing, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO AMS METEOROLOGIST: That right. Conditions have quieted down across parts of North Dakota. We are looking at more snow developing today from west to east and we start off in California, where we're expecting about four to six inches of snowfall along the Sierra mountains, and we're talking about snow in the four corners, but the big area in the central plains for areas like Nebraska and Missouri, we're potentially talking a foot of snowfall and blizzard conditions setting up potentially late tomorrow night as well into Thursday. We'll see wind gusts in excess of 30 miles per hour. More than a foot of snowfall, and the other part of the story, severe weather setting up for tomorrow and Thursday. This will be certainly something to watch. Back over to you, John.

BERMAN: A lot of rain coming too. Jennifer, thank you very much.

Police in Kalamazoo, Michigan, are investigating whether three toddlers killed in a fire there may have been left alone. The 3-year- old twins and 1-year-old girl died in the blaze. A fire official says the children were the only ones in the apartment when they arrived.

Police investigating whether a California man using a Christian dating site to find and attack women. Officers say suspect Sean Banks of Del Mar raped a woman he met on and now investigators want to know if the 37-year-old Banks, who used the screen name Rarity, may have other victims as well.

This just in. Brace yourselves. First look at Duchess Katherine's baby bump. You can barely make it out. If you look very, very carefully, 4 1/2 months pregnant. The former Kate Middleton making her first official public appearance since announcing her pregnancy back in December. She paid a visit to an addiction treatment center in southwest London this morning. After today, no other public appearances are planned for the duchess until March. There were like a jillion cameras there to see that as it happened. And you are seeing those pictures there.

O'BRIEN: She looks good. She looks so cute.

BERMAN: More baby news to tell you about right now. A Houston couple is going to need plenty of diapers and plenty of help after four bundles of joy arrived on Valentine's day. Tessa Montalvo gave birth to a very rare form of quadruplets, the four boys Ace, Blaine, Cash, and Dylan (ph) are actually two sets of identical twins. The chances of that happening are 1-70 million. We'll hear from the happy mom and dad and see the newborn sons coming up at 8:30 eastern.

O'BRIEN: When have you twins, John and I both have sets of twin boys, they name them twin A, and twin B. So they named their babies Ace, as in baby A, Blaine, B, and of course they has C so Cash, And Dylan, d.

ROMANS: And they have a 2-year-old boy at home. So in two years, they have gone from zero to five boys.

O'BRIEN: Oh that's going to be chaotic for them. We're going to talk to them later this morning. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, new details to share with you about the Newtown massacre. Did another mass murder inspire shooter Adam Lanza? A disturbing report that could shed light on a possible motive. Straight ahead.

And the, some business news to share with you.

ROMANS: That's right. Two deficit (ph) hawks taking another try at changing the tax code. Will simpson and Bowles be able to bring both sides together on budget talks. Hint: maybe. tax reform?


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, you're watching STARTING POINT. Investigators may have found a motive for the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. A report from CBS news said Adam Lanza, the shooter, was obsessed with another mass killer who murdered 77 people in Norway a year before the Newtown shooting. CNN's Susan Candiotti follows developments for us on this story. Good morning.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. It certainly is one working theory. Investigators suggest Adam Lanza may have been trying to one up another mass murder, by killing even more than the 77 people, the majority of them teenagers, shot by Anders Breivik in Norway. CBS quotes law enforcement sources found evidence leaning them in that direction. The evidence appears to be news articles.

The Hartford Currant reports several stories about the Norway massacre was discovered in one of Lanza's two bedrooms in the house where he lived with his mother. She was his first victim. Connecticut investigators reportedly went to Washington last week to brief federal authorities and shared this theory. Lanza used guns including a military-style assault rifle purchased by his mother, she kept at their home in Newtown. At Sandy Hook Elementary, Lanza systematically shot 20 children and 6 teachers before taking his own life when police arrived. Lanza reportedly chose school because of the number of potential targets in a closed-in setting, that's part of the theory. A spokesman for Connecticut state police called the CBS report speculative and that no single motive has yet been confirmed. However, the spokesman told me as far as duplicating Breivik and the mass murder in Norway, nothing has been ruled out, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: So then walk us through the training for (ph). There's much made about the video games, who was Adam Lanza, and we know a little bit about some of the issues he had, mental issues and developmental issues. A lot reported about that. But what exactly do we know about the violent games and things like that?

CANDIOTTI: We know he enjoyed playing them and he had a lot of violent games. We reported that already, that were found at the house, that investigators retrieved and he spent a lot of time in a basement room set up as sort of a game room for him there. We know authorities have been working hard. The online gaming community to see if anyone there knows about him whether they played games with him, shared any discussions with him. And they have been trying to piece together the hard drive, not having very much success as we understand it. That he smashed to smithereens before he took off on this massacre at Sandy Hook.

O'BRIEN: Such an interesting case. Trying to figure out what the motive there in that case. Susan Candiotti has really covered this from the very beginning. Thank you. We appreciate it.

CANDIOTTI: You're welcome.

O'BRIEN: This case is raising some international tensions this morning. An adopted Russian boy found dead in Texas. 3-year-old boy. But of course the question now is, what does it mean for other families trying to adopt from Russia? The implications of this little boy's death, straight ahead. We're back in a moment.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody you're watching STARTING POINT. Our team this morning, Ron Brownstein is back, he's the editorial director at "National Journal." Abby Huntsman is the host of "Huff Post Live" she's with us again today, and Charles Blow is back, the "New York Times" columnist. Nice to have you all with us. I love that you tweet you're coming on. You leave out your co-captains (ph)



CHARLES BLOW, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I have no idea who's going to be on with me.



O'BRIEN: Let's start with business news this morning. Christine's got that. Good morning.

ROMANS: Good morning. "Minding your Business". Stock futures up slightly this morning. The market reopening after a three-day weekend. Lots of corporate earnings and economic data on tap this week. Stocks are within shouting distance of all-time highs. The Dow finished Friday a little over a percent shy of that milestone set back in October 2007. We'll see if the market can build on the momentum this week with the economic news we'll get. New this morning, gas prices up for a 33rd day in a row. The new national average for a gallon of regular unleaded. $3.75 per gallon. That's up 45 cents over that span.

And reports out of Japan report slight swelling in battery cells of the second 787 Deamliner to make an emergency landing last month. "The New York Times" says officials from the Japan transport safety board will continue investigating. They did not confirm internal damage to the batteries. Meantime national transportation safety board investigators here in the U.S. are looking into the Japan airline 787 that caught fire at Boston Logan airport in early January. The Dreamliner mystery continues.

These two men are taking another shot at getting the government's fiscal House in order. "The Wall Street Journal" says Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles will propose a new plan for tax reform and spending cuts. Their goal: compromise between Democrats and Republicans.


O'BRIEN: We can all take a moment and laugh. Seriously.

ROMANS: You may remember the Simpson-Bowles commission bipartisan group formed in 2010. The plan they came up with still lauded by some in Congress, but the president never pushed the specifics of that plan. I predict you will see competing budget plans and they will run out of time to push the sequester off or replace the sequester (ph). You going to get a lot of plans (ph).

ABBY HUNTSMAN, HOST, "HUFF POST LIVE": Where did that plan go? Right in the garbage can.

RON BROWNSTEIN, EDITORIAL DIRECTOR "THE NATIONAL JOURNAL": What they do is they show there is a pathway. Pretty much every group that has studied this comes out with the same combination. The issue, is not that you can't conceptually figure out how to respond to the deficit challenge, it's that politically neither party can get to the comprehensive plan that is need.

O'BRIEN: Why don't we pressure to do that? Right? I mean at some point one has to imagine that the voting public gets sick of it and says we actually need you to work together to figure it out.

HUNTSMAN: We want you to compromise.

BLOW: Well, not everyone wants their politicians to compromise. So the polls consistently show Democrats, Independents, prefer politicians to compromise. Republicans consistently do not want their elected officials to -


BROWNSTEIN: And the reality is polls show people are very resistant to almost anything that would have a major impact, particularly when dealing with entitlements. By the way, quick silver lining on your gas prices story, it really is changing behavior. Twenty miles a gallon, average car sold in 2007, up to 24 now.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, we've got to take a short break. Still ahead, a case that could have far-reaching implications and international investigation in now underway around the death of this little boy. He was adopted from Russia. We'll take a look at what it means for other families trying to adopt from Russia as well.

Also, a violent assault caught on camera at a laundromat. We'll tell you what happened, right after this short break.