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Day Four of Pistorius Bail Hearing; Lead Inspector on Pistorius Case Removed; Oscar's Music Man

Aired February 22, 2013 - 05:30   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Defense have been making final arguments in the fourth day of Pistorius' bail hearing. He is charged with premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. This was on Valentine's Day. The defense claims Pistorius mistook his girlfriend for an intruder.

CNN's Robyn Curnow live at the courthouse in Pretoria, South Africa.

So they have been going at this now for four days, trying to decide whether or not he will get out of jail on bail. What are the sticking points this morning, still?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. Well, you know, both arguments have been wrapped up. And there's a real sense from the defense that they really want to push this as a culpable homicide. They say this morning in court that Oscar was just firing blindly. On the other hand the state seemed to be quite confident that they have a strong enough case against him.

The big question, of course, is whether this sort of bombshell that was dropped yesterday, whether that lead investigator who was found to be also facing attempted murder charges has some sort of impact on the case. So on one hand, some people are arguing that that was just an embarrassing -- it was an embarrassment, that it's a credibility issue, that this lead investigator who was eventually removed isn't really going to impact on that final trial.

On the other hand, you know, does his testimony in this bail hearing punch holes in the prosecution's case?

Now the police commissioner, the National Police Commissioner, has come out and had to say this about the investigator who is facing attempted murder charges.


RIAH PHIYEGA, SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: Whether he performed poorly or whether he performed excellently, it is a court that will tell us tomorrow. A lot of the issues that you are raising about whether there was contamination in all those aspects, those matters are subjective. We answer to those questions in court. Botha is a very good investigator and Botha did his job. And he's got 22 years of experience. And I think he presented the case of the police well in court.


CURNOW: OK, there. Well, you know, what does this mean for the whole case? A case that has seen so many twists and turns, quite bizarre at times. In terms of Oscar Pistorius, the man known as the blade runner, how did he look today? Well, according to our CNN producer inside the court, he looked withdrawn, he looked isolated, he looked emotionless, drained.

And I also hear from other sources that he's very tired. He's been having trouble sleeping. You know, and we said all along that he has been very emotional at times. But the last day or two, he seems to have sort of withdrawn into his shell. Yesterday when I was in court, sitting motionless.

So we understand he's under extreme stress, no doubt. His coach spoke to CNN earlier on, his running coach, and he said that if he gets bail he's going to have him out on the track next week, training. He thinks that will help him clear his head.

SAMBOLIN: All right. So they have wrapped up the arguments and we're waiting to hear a decision on bail at 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Robyn Curnow, thank you very much.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: While we await the judge's ruling, let's bring in Alison Leotta, author most recently of the upcoming "Speak of the Devil." She's also a former federal prosecutor who's handled some of D.C.'s toughest cases. She joins me now from Washington.

Good morning. I mean, tell me, do you think that given these facts that you've seen so far, should he be granted bail while he awaits trial?

ALLISON LEOTTA, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, it's going to be up to the magistrate. And there has been such a side show with the investigator. But really, what the judge is going to have to look at is, is it likely that he did it but also is he going to escape? Is he going to try to flee? Does he present a danger to the community if he is let go on bail?

And that's a -- that's a tough case. The prosecution has put forward evidence that it has, but that's a tough road to hoe for them.

ROMANS: You talk about the distraction of this lead investigator. You know, just an incredible turn in what has been a tumultuous few days in this case. Isn't this -- because it is not a jury system there, but it is a judge, isn't that just a distraction? Do you think the judge is going to be swayed at all by this Botha controversy?

LEOTTA: I think, you know, it definitely changes the tenor of it. Instead of presenting this squeaky clean investigator that the judge can just rely on everything that he said, it just throws everything into question. You know, that said, what the judge is trying to get into right now is what's going on in Oscar Pistorius' head, both, you know, now, will he try to flee if he is let go and also before, you know, four nights ago or seven nights ago when this happened, what was he thinking? Was he thinking this was a really an intruder or was he really thinking that this was his girlfriend?

And he's just going to try to take the evidence that he's got, these little bits and pieces, you know, whether there was urine in her bladder, whether the prosthetic legs were on, the angle of the bullets to try to get to that one question of what was Oscar Pistorius thinking on February 14th.

ROMANS: And that also, of course, is what a whole trial is going to be based on. In a way it's almost as if this bail proceeding has been like a mini trial. I mean, the amount of evidence that has been presented, and then knocked down and then brought back up, I mean, is it usual to see a bail hearing with so many twists and turns?

LEOTTA: No, absolutely not. Just the fact that there is this whole Botha issue is enormous. I think if you wrote it in a novel, it would not be believable. You couldn't suspend your disbelief this much. It could only happen in real life. I've never seen a case where a police officer is put on the stand and then while he's testifying, in the midst of his testimony it's revealed that attempted murder charges are pending against him. It's just shocking.

ROMANS: You just heard from the South African National Police commissioner who's defending his testimony and saying, look, you know, 22 years, he is a good investigator. He gave our case correctly on the stand. Again, it's just a judge. It's not a jury. Maybe this controversy would have more impact on a jury and less on a judge.

LEOTTA: Yes, that's possible. And the bail decision will only be up to the judge. But that said, obviously, it obviously does not look good for the prosecution. And at this point, I think that Hilton Botha was the greatest present that Oscar Pistorius could be given.

ROMANS: All right. Allison Leotta, former federal prosecutor, upcoming book, "Speak of the Devil" coming up this year. Thank you so much. Talk to you soon.

Tune in tonight for -- 10:00 Eastern for an "AC 360" special on the Pistorius murder case, "BLADE RUNNER: MURDER OR MISTAKE." That's right here on CNN.

SAMBOLIN: A fierce winter storm has a huge chunk of the country under severe weather watches this morning. And today, this huge system is headed to the Great Lakes. It's expected to drop three to five inches in the Chicago area. And here are the stats so far. Millions of people, over 20 states, are being impacted by this massive winter blast. The storm system covers about 750,000 square miles. Record snow has fallen in the plains states. And that means a lot of slick and icy roads out there.


MELISSA FREEMAN, DRIVER: We saw a car that had hit a tree and so I put on my blinkers and I was going to pull off the side of the road to make sure nobody was injured and the gentleman in front of me, due to the ice, hit me from behind.


SAMBOLIN: So when it's all said and done, this system will have left snow and ice from the Mexican border all the way to New England.

ROMANS: President Obama reaching out to Republican congressional leaders with forced budget cuts looming. The White House says the president spoke to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by phone yesterday. But not saying much else beyond that. $85 billion in domestic and Defense cuts begin kicking in March 1 unless Democrats and Republicans strike a debt reduction deal.

SAMBOLIN: When it comes to battling gun violence Joe Biden says political survival must take a backseat to our children's survival. The vice president spoke at a conference on gun control in Danbury, Connecticut, yesterday, just a short distance from the scene of December's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. And he warned lawmakers that there's a moral price to pay for inaction.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT: People say, and you read, and people write about the political risk and why they're unacceptable to take on. I say it's unacceptable not to take this on. It's just simply unacceptable.


SAMBOLIN: The vice president also went on to say no law-abiding citizen should fear their constitutional rights will be jeopardized by tougher gun control laws.

ROMANS: Three army paratroopers left dangling after a jump in Washington state. They got stuck when their shoots got tangled in the trees near Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Apparently heavy winds blew them off course. Rescuers had to climb up and get them. No one was hurt. But that is a terrifying leap.

SAMBOLIN: That is good news that nobody got hurt there.

All right, be careful what you say to your kids. They may take you literally, right? Shamayne Rosario found that out the hard way. The Boston, Massachusetts, mom was trying to get her 10-year-old son, Danny, to go to bed Wednesday night when he pitched a fit.


SHAMAYNE ROSARIO, SON CALLED 911: He got really mad at me and he's like, you're mean. I'm going to call the cops. And I said, go ahead. Call the cops.


SAMBOLIN: You guessed it. That is exactly what Danny did. When the 911 operator answered, the little guy hung up. So the dispatcher called back.



UNIDENTIFIED 911 DISPATCHER: Hi, this is 911. Somebody just called from there?

ROSARIO: Yes. It was my son. My 10-year-old son.


SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness. The 911 operator sent an officer to the home just to be sure that everybody was OK. When he got there, Danny had no issue with going to bed. We're told he hid under the covers and was simply too scared to come out.

Moral of the story. I was going to say call the cops so that your kid can go to bed but, no, bad idea.


Bad idea.

ROMANS: Wow. All right, he is the most nominated man alive in the movies. Coming up, meet the Oscar's music man, composer John Williams, nominated again this year for "Lincoln."

SAMBOLIN: Plus an exclusive. The Carter who won the election for Obama. Piers Morgan with the former president talking about his grandson's role in the 2012 race.

We're back right after this quick break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. He is Oscar's real-life music man. Composer John Williams is nominated yet again this year for his work with long-time collaborator Steven Spielberg in "Lincoln." The nomination breaking a record that Williams set at last year's Oscars.

CNN's Kyung Lah sat down with the Academy legend to talk about his golden career.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Superman", "Indiana Jones", "Harry Potter." You don't even have to see them, you know their music. Composed by John Williams, the most Oscar nominated man alive. This year for "Lincoln."

JOHN WILLIAMS, FILM COMPOSER: Forty-eight nominations is -- it's a hard thing to get one's mind around, I think. Because I think things like, how could anybody be that old?

LAH: Oscar is a very old friend to 81-year-old Williams. They've had a courtship since the 1970s.

WILLIAMS: What made it a good tool for me in the film was that the two notes could be played note, note, or note, note, note, note. Or very fast, very soft, or very loud, in your face.

LAH (on camera): Two notes in "Jaws," five notes in "Close Encounters."

WILLIAMS: Those five notes.

LAH (voice-over): It is an outer space where Williams soared. "Star Wars" is the best selling film score of all time and still celebrated in his live performances.

WILLIAMS: It's a wonderful sight at the end to turn around and see them all waving these light sabers. You couldn't plan it. You couldn't say, I'm going to write something today that 30 years from now people will be celebrating in some fashion. Impossible.

LAH: The five-time Oscar winner credits hard work and the fortune of a good friend, a 40-year partnership with Steven Spielberg that persevered even when Williams felt he couldn't match the director's work in "Shindler's List."

(On camera): You asked Spielberg to find somebody else.

WILLIAMS: I said to him, Steven, this is a great film. And you really need a better composer than I am for this film. And he sweetly said, yes, I know, but they're all dead.

LAH: How do you keep the energy, the creative juices going?

WILLIAMS: It's better not to keep your eye on the finish line so much. Better to keep your eye right from what's in front of you at the moment.

LAH (voice-over): A life philosophy that keeps him enhancing those cinematic moments. That soar into movie history.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.


SAMBOLIN: We're reminiscing here about "E.T." Soledad will be in Hollywood for a special morning-after Oscar edition of "STARTING POINT." That is Monday beginning at 7:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

And don't forget CNN's red carpet Oscar special, "THE ROAD TO GOLD." That is Sunday night beginning at 6:00 Eastern.

ROMANS: Former President Jimmy Carter said he's a proud grandfather because his grandson, James Carter, had a role in uncovering that now infamous videotape, the one where Mitt Romney privately told supporters that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government, believe they're victims, and will vote for Barack Obama no matter what.

The former president talked about it last night with Piers Morgan.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, CNN'S PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT: Do you think that was the pivotal moment --

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT: I think it was the pivotal moment.

MORGAN: -- in destroying Mitt Romney's chances?

CARTER: I believe it was. It was something that he could not deny and it stuck with him for the rest of the election. And I think it was a major factor, if not the major factor.


ROMANS: When President Obama was in Atlanta last week, he thanked James Carter personally.

SAMBOLIN: Forty-seven minutes past the hour, new details on the manhunt that captivated the entire nation. Coming up, the tip from a former mentor that eventually led cops to accused killer Christopher Dorner.

ROMANS: Plus the first lady getting some help from someone who lives on Sesame Street.


ROMANS: And welcome back to EARLY START. Following some breaking news for you right now. Less two hours, we'll know if the South African magistrate will allow Oscar Pistorius to go free on bail. We're going to bring you that announcement live from the court. The court which just adjourned.

Pistorius is charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The Olympic blade runner's coach says if Pistorius gets bail, he expects to have him resuming training next week.

SAMBOLIN: And we're keeping an eye on that massive winter storm system that is blanketing the plain states. Schools, highways, airports, closed due to record snow in some parts of Kansas and Missouri. The storm is making its way to the Great Lakes today. Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan could see heavy snow before the system arrive in the northeast. That is scheduled for Saturday.

And we're hearing for the first time from the woman who trained Christopher Dorner to be an L.A. cop and gave the tip that led police to hunt for him. Theresa Evans says she had a feeling Dorner killed the police captain's daughter and her fiance. She says it was a hunch and a long shot but something inside told her the killings were payback after Dorner was fired. Evans called in the tip and the manhunt began. Dorner eventually was killed after a shootout and fire in Big Bear, California. ROMANS: A Boeing executive meets with FAA officials today to lay out the company's plan to fix its Dreamliner jets. The entire fleet of 787 is grounded because of battery problems that ignited at least two fires inside the plane. Boeing hopes to get those planes back in the air by April. Only 50 Dreamliners were in service but Boeing has orders for hundreds more.

And, Zoraida, they are coming off the assembly line as we speak.

SAMBOLIN: They got a lot of problems there.

Big Bird is back in the political spotlight after being a target of the 2012 presidential campaign. Remember that? When Mitt Romney said he'd cut PBS funding. The big yellow guy is teaming up now with First Lady Michelle Obama to mark the third anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign. The duo shooting two new public service announcements encouraging kids to exercise and to eat right.

ROMANS: All right, coming up, the brand new formula that's shaking up the music charts. The "Harlem Shake." Now topping music charts.


ROMANS: Welcome back. Fifty-six minutes after the hour. Taking a look at the top CNN trends on the Web this morning. Billboard's Top 100 gets a shake-up this week.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. For the first time data counted from streaming YouTube videos is factored into the chart's ranking. So right away the viral smash "Harlem Shake" -- the guys here dancing in the studio -- by Bauer shot to the number one spot. The song was originally released last June. But sales didn't take off until last week's online dance craze. Since then its digital sales are up more than 1,000 percent.

I bet you love that, Christine.

By the way, this is not the original "Harlem Shake." That dance which you see here first became popular back in the 1990s, thanks to rapper G-Def and P. Diddy.


There it is. There it is. Can you do that?



SAMBOLIN: And neither can I.

ROMANS: Absolutely not. Also trending this morning, "America's Got Talent" has a new judge. Former sassy "Spice Girl" Mel B is going to replace Sharon Osbourne on the hit NBC reality series. She'll join TV host Howie Mandel and host -- and hot head radio host Howard Stern. Judging acts from all over the country as they compete for the coveted $1 million grand prize.

SAMBOLIN: And to check out our other top CNN trend, head to

ROMANS: Into late-night last now where the guys took on celebrity wine, the Oscars and Playboy.


JIMMY FALLON, "LATE NIGHTS WITH JIMMY FALLON": I heard that Playboy is coming out with its first iPhone app later this year.


Or as your girlfriend put it, hey, why is your iPhone locked now?


It's a pretty cool app called "Words with Boobs."

JIMMY KIMMEL, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": There's an interesting contest going on in the Best Actress category. Both the youngest and the oldest actresses ever nominated are competing. The stars of the movie "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Quvenzhane Wallis is only 9 which kind of makes your kids' performance as tree number two in her school plays seemed a little less impressive, right?

But Emmanuelle Riva, who's nominated for the movie "Amor," is 85 years old. She said if she doesn't win, she's threatening to die during the broadcast. You'll ruin the "In Memoriam" montage.

JAY LENO, "TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have gotten into the wine business. They're producing a new wine from their French estate and they're putting their names on the label. Not the first celebrities to do this. Lindsay Lohan put her name on a vodka bottle but it was with a sharpies so nobody else would drink from it.


ROMANS: Mean. All right. EARLY START continues right now.

Breaking news, we've learned that a big ruling on bail for Oscar Pistorius is coming in 90 minutes. Will the Olympian accused of murdering his model girlfriend -- will he be freed on bail?

SAMBOLIN: Shootout on the Vegas Strip. Police this morning on the hunt for the gunmen who left three dead in a hail of bullets and a fiery crash in front of really terrified tourists.

ROMANS: Going nowhere. National Guard troops searching for stranded drivers in the Midwest. Snow, sleet and freezing rain could spell dangerous driving conditions for a huge part of the country today. Be careful.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans, I'm in for John Berman this Friday morning.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Friday. It's February 22nd. It is just about 6:00 a.m. in the East so let's get started here. We start with breaking news.

It's decision day in the Oscar Pistorius murder case. We are set to find out about an hour and a half from now -- that's 7:30 Eastern to be exact -- whether the Olympian will get bail. His hearing which has played out like a trial so far has just adjourned until the judge makes that bail announcement.

Pistorius is charged with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Prosecutors say they are concerned Pistorius will flee if he is released on bail.

CNN's Robyn Curnow live at the courthouse in Pretoria, South Africa.

What can you tell us, Robyn?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed, I think we're all standing outside the court and my colleague, a CNN producer, inside the court, all anxiously waiting this announcement by the magistrate. We understand that he made a -- he made an announcement that he understood the severity of this decision he was making whether he would be sending Oscar back into those holding cells or whether he would be sending him home.