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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

"Blade Runner" Bail Hearing: Day 2; Crews Searching Rubble in Kansas City; Winter Storm on the Way; Bulgarian Government Resigns; Deadline Nears on Forced Spending Cuts

Aired February 20, 2013 - 05:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Two boxes of testosterone and needles found at the home of Oscar Pistorius the night his girlfriend was killed. Some damaging testimony happening right now in court.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And still developing, a search for the missing after an explosion levels a popular restaurant in Kansas City.

BERMAN: And praising for a really big storm. It has already started in California, but soon millions across the large chunk of the country. You're also going to feel it.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. And welcome to EARLY START.

Thanks for being with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, February 20th, 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And happening right now, big developments in the case of Oscar Pistorius. We could hear any minute whether the Olympic track star accused of murdering his girlfriend will be allowed to go free.

And just in, brand new details about what investigators saw and found at the scene, including two boxes of testosterone and needles, as well as some unlicensed ammunition.

The first officer on the scene says he believes a cricket bat was used to break down the bathroom door. Also, he believes that gunshots were aimed specifically at the toilet, not just randomly into the bathroom door. The officer also described the wounds that killed his girlfriend, Oscar Pistorius' girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. She was hit on the right side of her head, right elbow, and her hip.

They are there are also new dramatic details coming to light about what happened before the shooting. The prosecution says neighbors reported hearing sounds of nonstop fighting for an hour coming from the home of Oscar Pistorius. One investigator taking the stand saying he opposed bail for Pistorius because he considers him a flight risk. And Pistorius now faces even more charges for the unlicensed ammunition that police say they found at his home.

A lot going on and Robyn Curnow has the latest from Pretoria. ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More riveting testimony here at the Pretoria high court. We're hearing from the investigating officer. He's telling the court a number of fascinating compelling details that poke holes in Oscar Pistorius' statement.

He says that the couple argued for at least an hour according to police reports on the night that Reeva Steenkamp was killed. He's also questioning Oscar's side of the story of how and where he was when he shot at that bathroom door. Currently, we know that a number of diagrams and photographs of the house are being displayed in the courtroom as the police try and explain the trajectory of the bullets.

We also know that they think Oscar Pistorius is a flight risk. That is why they are opposing bail. They say he has offshore bank accounts and a house in Italy and they say if he were to leave the country, it would be very difficult to bring him back to stand trial.

So that is why they say he should spend the next few months until a trial date is set behind bars. And that's also why they say this was premeditated murder.

Back to you.

BERMAN: As we've been saying, a lot new, a lot going on here. Coming up at 6:30 a.m., we're going to break down what's happening at his bail hearing and what all the developments mean with CNN legal contributor Paul Callan. Stay with us for that.

SAMBOLIN: Three minutes past the hour. Developing overnight, the search is on for victims in the rubble of a downtown Kansas City restaurant after a natural gas explosion. Take a look at those pictures. It was happy hour at JJ's, one of the city's most popular restaurants, when the explosion literally ripped the roof off.

Residents nearby say a lot of the buildings shook. Two people are missing right now and dozens were hurt in the blast and fire which may have been triggered by an accident involving a utility contractor.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is live in Kansas City for us. What is the very latest here?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, at this point, they have suspended the search for those two missing people, a man and woman. This explosion took place just after 6:00 last night at a very popular restaurant which is now completely gone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS (voice-over): The explosion can which witnesses say could be felt blocks away instantly engulfed JJ's Restaurant sending debris, including glass and bricks flying through the air. Flames toward into the sky and black smoke could be seen for miles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just live two blocks down. We just felt our building shaking and we thought that (INAUDIBLE) raining to our apartment. ROWLANDS: There were reports of the smell of gas an hour before the explosion, fortunately several people inside the restaurant were evacuated just minutes before the blast.

The cause is still under investigation, but according to the gas company, a contractor doing underground work may have struck a natural gas line. After the fire was put out, dogs were brought in this case there were additional victims.

PAUL BERARDI, KANSAS CITY FIRE CHIEF: I would always fear that there are fatalities in a situation like this. We had a fully involved restaurant that had patrons, probably several patrons inside at the time of the incident. And so, that's why we're here searching as we are.

ROWLANDS: The injured ranged from people who were hit by flying debris to those who suffered severe burns and are now fighting for their lives.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROWLANDS: And authorities say they are going to bring in some heavy equipment to move some debris, then they will bring back the dogs to try to find the remains of the two missing, a man and a woman. We're not sure if those were employees of the restaurants or patrons -- Zoraida.

SAMABOLIN: Ted Rowlands, live in Kansas, thank you.

And we're going to continue to follow this developing story. At the top of the hour, we'll talk with Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

BERMAN: So it has already started this morning and soon most of the rest of the country will feel the effects of a really significant winter storm. California is getting the first taste of it right now. It is expected to hit millions from California all the way to Arkansas.

Jennifer Delgado is at the severe weather center in Atlanta. Jennifer, what's the latest on this storm? And how many of us will it affect?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're talking a lot of states are going to be affected by the storm system. You saw the video of the dog playing in the snow.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, that's fun.

DELGADO: Right, he's enjoying it. But reality is, we're going to be looking at severe weather, possibility of a foot of snow. And we're also talking about snow in the southwest. Now, let's start off right now from West to East. Let's show you video of a land spout coming in out of California.

And again, that land spout video is something that you see typically in those drier areas. And we'll get to that throughout the day. But we're also talking about the potential for snow as I said nearly a foot as well as freezing rain. You can see what's coming in through areas and southern California, rain out there as well as snow.

Well, of course that is the other part of this story. That is going to be moving over towards the East. It's going to combine with the system down towards the South and part of Texas and that is what's going to be the fuel for potentially some very strong winds as well as winter storm warnings and watches all across parts of the Midwest. You can see streaming from Minnesota all the way down towards areas including Kansas. We're going to see some strong winds with this, and of course the freezing rain, potentially dangerous and taking down power lines.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Jennifer, thank you very much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

SAMBOLIN: And new this morning, Bulgaria's prime minister and his entire government resigned. Boyko Borissov made the announcement a short while ago during a parliament meeting. Bulgarians have been clashing with police in national protest in recent days. They're upset about high energy costs and a low standard of living in the E.U.'s poorest country. It's not clear if a parliamentary election scheduled for July will now be moved up.

BERMAN: At the 11th hour, a twice convicted killer getting a stay of execution in Georgia. Warren Lee Hill was scheduled to die by lethal injection last night, but a federal appeals court granted a stay. Hill was already serving life when he was sentenced to death for killing a fellow inmate. Hill supporters say that with an I.Q. of 70, he is mentally disabled. And under the U.S. Constitution, they say, he cannot be executed.

SAMBOLIN: A body found in the rooftop water tank of a downtown L.A. hotel has been identified this morning. Twenty-one-year-old Elise Lam was a tourist from Canada who was last seen at the Hotel Cecil nearly three weeks ago. Her body was found last night after people living in the hotel complained their water pressure was low.

BERMAN: Wow.

SAMBOLIN: Police are not sure if she died accidently or if foul play was involved there.

BERMAN: So later this morning, former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. will be in a Washington, D.C. courtroom where he's expected to plead guilty to misusing campaign funds. Prosecutors say he took more than $750,000 from his campaign coffers and spent it on personal items like furniture, clothing, memorabilia and this, a $43,000 Rolex watch.

Jackson's wife, former Chicago alderman Sandra Stevens Jackson, will make her own court appearance a few hours later to plead guilty to filing false tax returns.

SAMBOLIN: Apple says it, too, was the target of a hack attack. Can you believe it? A small number of Mac computer were infected. But the malware was detected and isolated from their computer network. Apple says no internal data was stolen. The hackers appear to be the same ones that breached Facebook's computers last month.

BERMAN: So while you were sleeping, China's military now denying accusations that it has been carrying out cyber attacks against the U.S. from this 12-story building in Shanghai or anyplace else for that matter. But forceful denial comes a day after Virginia cyber security firm Mandiant released a report about hacking it claims it has direct ties to the military. Mandiant says since 2006, the hackers have stolen data from at least 141 organizations around the world.

SAMBOLIN: Surprised that they're claiming they didn't do it.

BERMAN: Of course, they're denying it.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Nine minutes past the hour. Russia taking action after the suspicious death of this little boy, a young Russian who was adopted by American parents. We're going to go live to Moscow, coming up.

BERMAN: Plus, if you have to get into a fender bender, do not do it in Houston.

SAMBOLIN: Why?

BERMAN: We'll tell you, coming up.

(COMMERICAL BREAK)

SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. Thirteen minutes past the hour.

Russia is calling for a ban to all international adoptions this morning after the death of a 3-year-old boy in west Texas. There's his picture there.

The country's children's rights commissioner held a news conference earlier this morning and he's also demanding the return of the 3-year- old Max Shatto's younger brother Kiro (ph) to Russia. State and county officials in Texas are investigating what they call suspicious circumstances surrounding Max Shatto's death last month. He was adopted in Russia by American parents.

CNN's Phil Black is live in Moscow. Phil, what is the latest on this?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Zoraida, you may recall at the end of last year, the Russian parliament passed legislation implementing a ban on all U.S. families adopting Russian children.

In the last 24 hours, we've heard a lot of passionate speeches from politicians saying we told you so, this proves that the ban we put in place was absolutely the right thing to do. And now as you've mentioned, some of those officials are going further. They believe that a total ban on all international adoptions is absolutely necessary now, in order to ensure the safety, they say, or Russian children. However, there are many who believe that the Russian adoption system, the rate of domestic adoptions here at the moment is just simply not big enough, not strong enough to make up for the number of children that are currently being cared for by families overseas, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: I know that in this case, this particular little boy, they were performing an autopsy on him. Do they have the results of that yet?

BLACK: Not that we're aware of, no. When the Russian government first started complaining very loudly about this case, it started to release a number of details that it says came from an autopsy. These details have not been repeated by officials in Texas, but they claim their initial reports show that the child had been beaten, had injuries to the head, abdomen, legs, internal organs and had been drugged for a prolong period of time, as well. Russian officials are backing away slightly.

They initially said this boy had clearly been killed, this was a murder and clearly the result of abuse from the family. They now accept that an investigation is under way, the cause has not been determined. No charges have been laid. And they're waiting to see precisely what the results of the investigation and any prosecution could be, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: And I just wanted to confirm his little brother is in protective custody right now, is he not?

BLACK: Well, we understand that he is still staying with his adoptive father. There are reports here in Russia that the adopted mother no longer has full-time access to this child. She only may be able to see once a week. This is what Russian officials are saying.

But Russian officials are now saying they very much want this child to be return to Russia as soon as possible, Zoraida.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Phil Black, live in Moscow for us -- thank you for that update.

BERMAN: Sixteen minutes after the hour right now. A lot of news are going on right now. Here is Christine Romans with some of the headlines.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good Wednesday morning to both of you.

Dramatic testimony happening right now during day two of Olympic star and murder suspect Oscar Pistorius bail hearing. We're expecting a decision on bail at any time now. The responding officer took the stand this morning and described the violent scene at the Olympians home. He says he believe as cricket bat was used to break down the bathroom door and shots were aimed at the toilet bowl which he says meant someone had to walk in, turn left, and fire at an angle.

He also testified that investigators found two boxes of testosterone and needles along with unlicensed ammunition in the home. Pistorius now also is facing charges for that ammunition.

Police trying to on figure out why a college student went on a shooting and carjacking spree Tuesday. This during the morning commute in Orange County, California. Three people were killed, three others injured. The suspect Ali Syed killed himself as police closed in. He was 20 years old, lived with his parents. He had no criminal record.

President Obama ratcheting up the pressure on Congress to avoid forced across the board spending cuts, cuts that kick in March 1st. The president spoke as first responders looked on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These cuts are not smart, they are not fair, they will hurt our economy. They will add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls. This is not an obstruction. People will lose their jobs. The unemployment rate might tick up again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The president criticized Republican ideas for avoiding the cuts because they ask nothing he says from the wealthiest Americans or from big corporations.

Just when you thought the government had run out of things to tax, oh, no. Missouri City, Texas, a Houston suburb with a budget problem, has started to charge a crash tax. Start next month, drivers will pay up to 2 grand for road service depending on how bad their auto wreckage, even if they don't call for help.

Hey, I mean, if the county has to pay to help, you know, move those --

SAMBOLIN: The pictures of the crashes that they were showing while you're reading that, horrific. Absolutely horrific.

All right. Thank you for that.

ROMANS: You're welcome. Eighteen minutes past the hour.

Tennessee police officer may need a course after confusing an Ohio Buckeye bumper sticker with a pot leaf. Bonnie Jonas-Boggioni and her husband were driving home from a funeral in Ohio when they got pulled over on I-40, this is in Tennessee, folks. The officer did not recognize the famous Buckeye logo and told the woman she needed to scrape the marijuana sticker off of her car. This is a true sorry. After the couple set the officer set, he eventually let them go.

BERMAN: I have to say two things to say about this actually.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, go ahead.

BERMAN: First of all, after doing research, I don't think they look that similar, A. B, even if it is a marijuana leaf, what's wrong with that? Why do you have to pull someone over? (CROSSTALK)

SAMBOLIN: Exactly. It's not illegal. That's an interesting story this morning.

BERMAN: Curious, isn't it?

All right. Eighteen minutes after the hour right now. And Apple had its day in the sun. And now, Google is the toast of Wall Street. Christine Romans coming back with a closer look next and she'll tell us whether you should buy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: There she is. New York, New York. We are minding your business this morning.

SAMBOLIN: Isn't she beautiful?

BERMAN: You know, awfully nice this morning.

ROMANS: That's like the real show.

BERMAN: They never left.

Stocks inching closer to those record highs. We're very close. Christine, any chance today is the big day?

ROMANS: I don't know, maybe. I mean, you're 100 some points away. Soon. Soon if the markets keep going in the right direction. Look, futures are pointing higher. The Dow is at a five-year high, it hit that during trading Tuesday. You got 128 points away from the all- time high.

So, I mean, if the news lines up today, it could happen. But, you know, Google is already at a record high, $800 stock. Have you been watching Google?

It's the highest price since they begun trading way back in August 2004. Remember when Google started trading at 85 bucks a share, we were like I don't know if this thing is going to keep going up, $800. People are calling it the new Apple. And those stocks are complete opposites.

Look at the chart. You put Apple and Google together here for you. This is in the last six months. Apple has tanked. It's down more than 30 percent since last August. Google is surging, up almost 20 percent over that span.

BERMAN: Wow.

ROMANS: Analysts are saying, look, people are using the Internet more than ever. Smartphones are in everyone's pockets. Google is doing fairly well in the retail market. It's got this new line of Nexus phone and tablets and its Chrome book computers.

So, Google all-time high and bullish energy is behind Google now and not behind Apple.

So, a lot of people are watching, thinking they could keep going higher. Unfortunately for drivers, gas prices also going higher. The new national average is $3.77.

SAMBOLIN: Every day.

ROMANS: Yes. And you know, experts tell us they don't think there's a new relief in sight. They think it's going to continue like this into the spring and summer.

Here in New York and Chicago, you're probably going to see 4 bucks a gallon soon if you haven't. If you live in California, you're already paying that. Higher oil prices, refinery closing, optimism about the global economy.

A lot of analysts are saying it's just this little creeping optimism around the world pushing prices up in the global market. You can help yourself. I mean, you can't control these prices obviously.

You can use the web, you can use apps on your phone like Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas in your area. Because we think that these high prices could last well into the summer. So, you know it will happen now. You'll start to see the high energy surcharges on deliveries and stuff like that. Small businesses, they are eating this right now and it's costing them more.

So I think as a consumer, you're going to start to see these little add-ons from things that you buy and use, what they're going to try to pass the gas prices.

SAMBOLIN: Also, they supposedly change the blend for the summer, right? And that pushes the price up.

ROMANS: And it's happening earlier than usual and that's what has a lot of people scratching their heads. That it's happening earlier than usual.

BERMAN: It's here and it's going to continue.

All right. Twenty-five minutes after the hour right now.

And Vice President Joe Biden shooting from the lip about guns, but it's not what you might expect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Or walk out, put that double barrel shot gun and fire two blasts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: More from the vice president, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)