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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Service Today For Colorado Prison Chief; Kremlin Critic's Mysterious Death; Skydive Takes Tragic Turn; Survivor Story; Caddy On A Hot Tin Roof; Republicans And Same Sex Marriage; Sandusky Speaks; Sandusky's Prison Interview; Tiger On A Tear; Report: U.S. Facing Bioterror Risk; Surviving Sandy; Miami Heat Winning Streak At 26

Aired March 25, 2013 - 07:30   ET

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


JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- caught in a very strange position between his friend, Tom Clements, who was murdered, and his long time friend, Jack Ebel, whose son Evan Ebel is the suspected shooter.

Listen to Governor Hickenlooper yesterday morning speaking with Candy Crowley from "STATE OF THE UNION."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOVERNOR JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), COLORADA: It sort of felt like I was in a -- caught in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from, right? All these things kept happening. People that I loved they didn't seem to be connected in any way. To me the emotional toll has been much deeper than worrying about security.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SPELLMAN: Investigators hope to have final confirmation of the ballistics from Texas and the Tom Clements shooting to confirm that link. But the investigation will be far from over until they figure out his motive and if he worked with anyone else -- John, Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: All right, Jim Spellman. Thanks, Jim. We could find out today how a powerful Russian businessman died. An autopsy is set for later this morning for 67-year-old Boris Berezovsky. He was found dead Saturday in his London area home.

Berezovsky was living in England after a falling-out with the Kremlin. He was a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and that has led to a lot of speculation about his death. British investigators say they wouldn't found any evidence of third-party involvement. He was found locked inside his bathroom. The door locked from the inside.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A group sky dive taking a tragic turn. An instructor and student from Iceland found dead in a wooded area in Zephyr Hills, Florida outside Tampa. Investigators say neither of them attempted to deploy their main parachutes. They may have somehow lost their altitude awareness. Their back up chutes activated automatically, but apparently too late to save them. An extraordinary tale of survival by a 9-year-old girl after a horrifying accident that killed her father, the California Highway Patrol says she was with him in an SUV when it left California's remote Sierra Highway and rolled hundreds of feet down an embankment.

The girl who had only cuts and bruises escaped and ran up the hill in complete darkness to a nearby house. No one answered. So what she did she went and checked on her dad again then climbed 200 feet up a steep embankment where a passerby found her and called for help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE GOMEZ, LIVES IN THE AREA: It's mind boggling that a little girl at that stage could do something like that. She's a survivor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: The father, as we said, did not survive. The girl says they were returning home to Los Angeles after a party. Investigators are saying that alcohol played a role in the crash.

ROMANS: And here's something you don't see every day. The driver was heading down a hill near Los Angeles and couldn't stop. That's when the Cadillac rounded a corner, went airborne and landed on this roof.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GALINA WYNN, PASSENGER: We took the corner the back air bag deployed and I don't even see where we're going from there, because the view was obstructed and I just heard when we stop I could see myself and my husband's really, really lucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A neighbor used a ladder to help get the couple down. It took a crane to get the Cadillac down. Authorities say there was a man inside the house, but he wasn't hurt. Best headline, Cadillac on a hot tin roof.

Same-sex marriage front and center this week with the Supreme Court taking up two appeals beginning tomorrow. The first Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio is already on record saying he supports it. Now listen to Karl Rove answer a question from ABC's George Stephanopoulos about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you imagine the next presidential campaign, a Republican candidate saying flat-out I am for gay marriage?

KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I could.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Rove quickly changed the subject after that. This is interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all, in 2004 when he was the architect for George W. Bush, you know, legend has it that Rove tried to drive a wedge issue on the issue of same-sex marriage, of course, coming out against it at that point.

Now he says the Republicans could actually have a candidate who supports it, though, let's put the question to Connie Mack, Mary Bono Mack, what do you think, possible?

CONNIE MACK, FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: Well, I certainly this issue -- I said this weekend to some friends that it's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when and how. And I think really we're starting to see the debate more about definition.

So when you talk about marriage, marriage is a religious institution that I think we ought to protect and marriage should be between one man and one woman. But I also believe that we ought to afford the same rights and privileges to people who love each other and want to have a family with each other. They ought to be allowed to do that and get all the same rights.

MARY BONO MACK, FORMER CALIFORNIA CONGRESSWOMAN: In California, we've had Prop 8, which started, people didn't know could they or couldn't they marry their loved one. I've seen it my neighborhood. You know, in my family certainly.

I think Senator Portman's credit, when you have someone like this in your family it takes on a whole different meaning to you and you're willing to come out and be brave and say something this brave.

So in my instance I have a lot of, you know, great dear friends who are gay and they're married and I support it.

BERMAN: When someone says, like Karl Rove says it's possible, though, does that carry weight among Republican candidates? Does that open up the door for someone to perhaps now say they support same-sex marriage?

MARY BONO MACK: I believe it does. Absolutely, look I believe it opens the door for people to take risks and to sort of step away from the orthodoxy. And not only Karl -- I know my husband's going to disagree with me. He's leaning over to give me the hook. But you know, it opens the door, I think, for people to step away from --

CONNIE MACK: I don't think it's that simple. I mean, just because that's Karl Rove's feeling doesn't necessarily mean that candidates across the country now are going to say, well, if Karl Rove said it, then we're going to start moving in that direction.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: This issue is moving so fast. Public opinion on this issue is moving so fast. And right here we have the two faces of the Republican Party, the more modern face, and the still evolving face of the Republican Party.

MARY BONO MACK: I'm more modern.

SOCARIDES: I will go right here and go further than Karl Rove went and tell you that I think if public opinion continues to move as quickly as it has recently, in four years from now, I guarantee you that this will not be an issue in the presidential race, and both parties will have candidates that support marriage equality.

MARY BONO MACK: And it shouldn't be an issue, shouldn't be an issue.

BERMAN: All right, guys, it's 36 minutes after the hour right now. Convicted child sex abuser Jerry Sandusky speaking out for the first time since he was sent to prison in the Penn State child sex abuse case. This morning a documentary filmmaker is playing excerpts from phone conversations that he recorded with Sandusky. The filmmaker is appearing on NBC's "Today" show.

CNN's Sara Ganim joins us now with more. Good morning, Sara.

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, John. You know, this guy, John Ziegler, he's a documentary filmmaker out west. He kind of does this thing where he attaches to big stories. He did it with Sarah Palin several years ago.

He did it a little bit with Steubenville rape case a couple of weeks ago and he also did it with Joe Paterno story. His agenda, according to his web site is very clear. He is trying to clear Joe Paterno's name.

But, he's doing it this time with an interview with -- the jailhouse interview with Jerry Sandusky who we all know is a convicted child sex predator and the family is very upset at what he's doing.

Sources tell me that it's an interesting case because he actually had some Paterno followers on Twitter. He was raising some money to do a documentary to help exonerate Joe Paterno and the family has said look, we don't support this.

We don't support using, you know, having Jerry Sandusky basically speak for Joe Paterno from jail and Jerry Sandusky is clearly not that credible at this point.

BERMAN: All right, Sara Ganim, thanks for joining us right now. We want to bring in Tom Kline. He represents Sandusky victim number five. He was present for the entire Sandusky case from the preliminary hearing to the verdict.

And Tom, let me ask you right now, what do you make of Sandusky speaking from prison in these recordings that are being played this morning?

TOM KLINE, REPRESENTS SANDUSKY'S VICTIM NUMBER 5: Well, to whom he's speaking is interesting. Sandusky and a Paterno advocate are certainly odd bedfellows. Mr. Paterno certainly was complicit, and there certainly were major problems with his conduct.

Mr. Sandusky was the root of all of these problems, and Mr. Sandusky is now saying the same old thing that he has said over and over and over again. He is a convicted felon, and he's going to spend the rest of his life in jail. That's the reality here. ROMANS: So what's the motive behind Sandusky cooperating with this documentary, and for allowing himself to be taped behind bars and allowing these conversations to be aired? What does he gain?

KLINE: Mr. Sandusky has always looked for a friendly forum. Most interesting part of the Sandusky trial, as far as he was concerned, was his lawyer explaining to the jury at the very end in the closing argument that Mr. Sandusky didn't take the stand because he didn't need to face the prosecutor in cross-examination because he faced the most -- the toughest prosecutor in the world in Bob Costas, which, of course, is all silliness.

He looks and he seeks for attention. He's narcissistic. He can't accept his punishment and he's looking to tell his story again. He's looking to tell it in a friendly forum and I'm sure he was convinced that this would be a friendly forum.

ROMANS: How does that make the victims feel?

KLINE: Terrible. Enough is enough. My client insisted that he testify at the sentencing hearing, which he did. He faced Mr. Sandusky, and he told him all of the things that he did to ruin his life. I am quite sure that every victim feels the same way.

BERMAN: Tom, do you think he'll admit some of the things he says right now against him if you take this to civil court try to get some money out of it. Will this help you anything he says from behind bars?

KLINE: Nothing Mr. Sandusky says or doesn't say is going to affect the civil lawsuits in my opinion. He, as a convicted felon and in fact, Mr. Paterno's family and Mr. Paterno back when blamed Mr. Sandusky. Penn State blamed Mr. Sandusky.

Everyone believes that he is the root cause of this problem. There's no controversy about that. The only issue remaining is Penn State's complicity. Penn State's enabling Mr. Sandusky to do what he did. That's what's on the table in the civil cases.

ROMANS: So, so one of the, one of the pieces of sound from Jerry Sandusky in this interview that was aired on NBC where Jerry Sandusky essentially saying he doesn't understand how somebody could have walked into the shower room, Mike McQueary and -- and jumped to the conclusions that he did about what was going on in there. I mean, he's really attacking the McQueary witness, and also that whole episode that really turned the stomachs of the jury.

KLINE: I was there. I saw Mike McQueary testify with conviction, and without a doubt he was believed by the jury. He told a compelling, compelling story. And I don't understand how Mr. Sandusky doesn't understand that Mr. McQueary saw what Mr. Sandusky had repeated over and over again in the shower room with little boys.

He saw it. He -- he told people about it. Mr. McQueary did and the facts were the facts. So Mr. Sandusky now saying, I don't understand what Mr. McQueary saw, well it was evident in the courtroom what he saw, with clear conviction, and without any doubt, at least to my credibility, having been a trial lawyer for 35 years.

ROMANS: You know what do you make of the Paterno family so quickly saying that they don't endorse this documentary? They don't endorse any of this, you know, that they, the truth will be the truth, not, not this, or, or any other, even the Louis Freeh report. What do you make of that?

KLINE: Well, it's very interesting. Mr. Ziegler's had this web site up for a long time, which is, you know, called the lies about Joe Paterno or something like that. The fact of the matter is that I haven't heard them discredit him previously. He now gets discredited when he gets into bed, if you will, with Mr. Sandusky.

Then they want to set some distance. Of course, the Paterno family wants to set distance from Mr. Sandusky. He is a convicted felon, and he was the root cause. The problem the Paternos have is that Mr. Paterno in the documents that we all have, and that have been aired in public by Mr. Louis Freeh, clearly shows that Joe Paterno was complicit in this whole, sordid, ugly affair.

BERMAN: All right, Tom Kline, attorney for victim number five. Thank you for coming in and talking to us about this, this morning.

KLINE: My pleasure.

BERMAN: -- Jerry Sandusky speaking for the first time by phone from behind bars everyone hearing tape of that for the first time this morning.

It's 42 minutes after the hour right now. Tonight, the man behind that documentary I'm just telling you about John Ziegler will be on "PIERS MORGAN LIVE." You want to watch that.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, Mother Nature may be getting in the way, but Tiger Woods could be within hours of reclaiming the number one world ranking. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: So Tiger Woods returned to the top of the golf word sort of on pause this morning thanks to Mother Nature. Tiger had a three- stroke lead in the final round of the Bay Hill Tournament in Orlando yesterday.

When the skies just opened up, some brutal weather, play resumed in just over two hours from now. With a win Tiger would move back into the number one spot in the world rankings. Rachel Nichols is with us right now to tell us all about it. Bay Hill, Tiger, just owns this place.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely. I mean, look, he lives right nearby. He's won this tournament seven times. So pretty much he knows how the ball is going to react to every blade of glass there, but also there is no better finisher when he's playing ahead than Tiger Woods. He has gone into tournaments holding the lead on the final day 42 times, 40 of them he's come out the winner. I'd take those odds. I don't know about you guys. He's up three. We think it's going to look good for him today.

As you said, it goes back to world number one, first time in 2-1/2 years. He's playing as well as anybody else. Lindsey Vonn, two-time Olympic Medalist, beautiful. Life's pretty good for Tiger Woods right now.

BERMAN: He is certainly in the news. Between the victories he's been having almost every week now and these pictures, which they very publicly posted for the world to see.

ROMANS: They went on Facebook to say gave us privacy, in our relationship, which is a little ironic.

NICHOLS: There's been some talk about maybe they were trying to -- the paparazzi stalker situation. They're happy and having a good time. So maybe we'll see her at Augusta. We'll be watching for her.

CONNIE MACK: This tournament this weekend is pretty much his home court, right, home court advantage for him? I mean, this is a court that he, he lives there, he knows it.

NICHOLS: It's basically the entire world came to play pickup basketball in your driveway and they said, yes, yes, yes, it's fine. We know how everything bounces off the backboard. That's what this is for Tiger Woods. We would expect him to win.

It will be a huge news story that I'm sure I will be sitting talking to you tomorrow morning if he loses because it would be huge if he loses. And this is again a great position for him to be in going into the next few weeks.

There's no better time for Tiger Woods to be playing well going into the next major, the Masters, where he plays better than anyone.

MACK: He has a new swing coach right I read something about --

SOCARIDES: Somebody knows a lot about this?

NICHOLS: I do want to say, though, that Tiger is not the one who hit a ball out of a tree yesterday.

BERMAN: No.

NICHOLS: I do want to make sure we get to that. That's pretty exceptional.

BERMAN: What a shot.

NICHOLS: Yes, I mean, you know, he climbed a tree, he's up about 15 feet. The guy he's playing with said I knew they were looking around the tree, then all of a sudden I look up and he's in the tree. Those are two very different things. He wedges himself up into a branch, hits the shot out. Unfortunately, he said that he did actually jam his shoulder while he was up there. I saw him jump about eight feet down, which I'm sure gave all of his sponsors a heart attack, considering he could have broken an ankle while he was down there.

MARY BONO MACK: Did the one stroke save him?

NICHOLS: It didn't in fact. He chunked the next shot, which was terrible. He played pretty poorly until the delay and then he withdrew from the tournament citing that shoulder injury.

CONNIE MACK: I know that vantage point. If you get a good -- you know, you can get that ball up upon the green.

BERMAN: Without hitting out of the tree. That's the only place -- the thing about Tiger a win there will bring him back to number one. For Tiger Woods the biggest thing is the majors. The biggest thing is regaining one of these majors. He hasn't won since 2008 right now. It's been a long time.

NICHOLS: Absolutely. And he's got that record in sight. There was a long time where people said, my gosh there's no way he's not going to shatter it. He's going to become the all-time major winner and then, he, of course, slowed down and he hasn't won in so long.

And everybody thought, OK, maybe this is just never going to happen. And it shows we should not go to extremes about anything, certainly not Tiger Woods. We'll just have to see how it plays out.

BERMAN: Don't count him out. All right, Rachel Nichols, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, Coney Island making a comeback. The latest on the Sandy recovery that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Disturbing story in this morning's "USA Today" to tell you about saying, America is at a greater risk of a bioterror accident. It's coining a new report from the Government Accountability Office. That report claims lab workers are more likely to have an accident handling germs like anthrax because there is no nationwide standard for lab design and operations.

A recent audit in 2012 also found that bioterror germs were transferred to unauthorized facilities. According to "USA Today," the USDA is challenging many of the findings in that audit calling the report's language, quote, "unduly alarming."

BERMAN: Another sign right now that New York City is slowly bouncing back from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Brooklyn's Luna Park in Coney Island is officially open for business once again.

A lot of politicians and business leaders hit the park over the weekend. It was chilly, but they got to ride on the famous wonder wheel and cyclone rollercoaster. The amusement park's electrical systems had to be replaced after the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy pretty much destroyed them.

ROMANS: Can where talk about the Heat and the Heat streak? It continues, 26 down, seven to go for the Miami Heat. Lebron James pouring in 32 points and handing off 10 assists in Miami's 109-77 victory Sunday over the Charlotte Bobcats, 26th win in a row for the Heat just seven shy of the all-time record of 33. That was set by the Lakers in 1971. Miami's goes for number 27 tonight against the Orlando Magic.

ROMANS: On the subject of victory, unprecedented victory right now, let's talk about the NCAA again, March Madness right now. Of all the CNN anchors entered into a very big CNN anchor pool, who is winning right now?

ROMANS: It's actually shocking, but I in fact checked it again and again, and I'm still number one. Where are you?

BERMAN: I'm fourth from last. Let me ask you, how much do you know about basketball?

ROMANS: Doesn't matter how much I know about basketball. It's how much I know about the fundamentals of each team. I picked them like stocks and I made a little stock portfolio out of them. So far it's working. I don't have any money on anything, though. Just bragging rights and trash talk.

BERMAN: Do you even know who the final four is?

ROMANS: I know that Michigan State going all the way. That's it.

BERMAN: There you have it, ladies and gentlemen.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, would you believe it, she's actually winning. Besides that, would you believe that it's actually spring? Check that out. The St. Louis Arch, right there. You can barely see it. There are winter storm warnings all over the east today.

ROMANS: That's right. We'll talk to a diver who captured this incredible video of a great white shark getting into the shark cage, what he says happened. You're not going to believe it. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Soledad is off today. Our STARTING POINT, it's spring, they tell us at least. We're getting walloped by major winter storms right now. It is headed east after dropping up to a foot of snow in parts of the Midwest. What you need to know in live team coverage coming up.

ROMANS: Plus Jerry Sandusky speaking out for the first time since he was sentenced to prison for sexually abusing ten boys. What he's saying now about the trial and some of the people who testified. BERMAN: And then way too close for comfort. Way, way too close. We're talking with a man who filmed this shocking video of a great white getting inside the cage with divers. That's not supposed to happen, folks.

ROMANS: It's Monday, March 25th. STARTING POINT begins right now.

All right, good morning. Welcome again. Let's introduce you to today's team. We've got Richard Socarides, former senior adviser to President Clinton. He is now a writer for newyorker.com. We've got former Florida Congressman Connie Mack and former California Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.

BERMAN: They are from nice states where the weather is generally nice. Yes, rub it in to half the country right now suffering from eternal winter right now.