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Texas D.A. And Wife Shot To Death; South Korea Flexes Military Muscle; Win, Injury for Louisville Cardinals; One-on-One With Derek Jeter

Aired April 1, 2013 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is someone hunting down prosecutors and killing them in Texas? The district attorney killed just months after the murder of his deputy. We are live with the latest on this manhunt.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A deadly infection leads to a medical mystery this morning. Doctors are trying to isolate a strain of bird flu that's killing humans for the first time.

BERMAN: And a mandatory gun for every home? One community could make this law later today.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for Zoraida Sambolin this morning. It's April 1st. Twenty-nine minutes past the hour.

Let's get you started here.

A manhunt is on for the killer or killers in the double murder that has a Texas community on edge this morning. The district attorney and his wife found gunned down at their home in Kaufman County, southeast of Dallas. Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia are the latest victims in what could be a case of a serial assassin targeting public officials.

Just two months ago, assistant district attorney Mark Hasse was gunned down in broad daylight near the courthouse as he walked to work. As far as we know, police have no suspects and no motive for this murder.

George Howell live in Kaufman, Texas, for us this morning. George, police haven't publicly linked the cases, but I mean, many speculate that these murders are connected. What can you tell us about the possible connection between the two?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christine, good morning. You know, both of these men worked very closely on similar cases, and we're hearing from public officials here who believe that these men may have been targeted, that it may have been a revenge hit. Think back to McLelland when he was talking about the death of Hasse, he was adamant. He was determined to find his killer. Now, I want you to listen to exactly how he said it, how adamant, how passionate he was about it when he held a news conference just after that murder. Take a listen.


MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I hope that the people that did this are watching, because we're very confident that we're going to find you. We're going to pull you out of whatever hole you're in. We're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.


HOWELL: So, Christine, pull you out of whatever hole you're in. And even in another instance, he referred to this person, whoever it might have been as scum. So, again, he was adamant, determined to find the killer. Hasse's death had a big impact on this very tight-knit office. They were determined to move forward and find that killer.

ROMANS: And of course, this morning, a White supremacist group getting some attention, some focus, the Aryan Brotherhood. Are they investigating whether this group could be involved?

HOWELL: Well, to be very clear, that connection has not been linked to McLelland's death, to him and his wife's death. But we do know that back in December, the Texas DPS, the Department of Public Safety, they put out a bulletin saying that they had credible information that the Aryan Brotherhood was planning -- actively planning retaliation against law enforcement.

These are questions that certainly came up, Christine, after Hasse's murder. But again, to be very clear, that connection has not been made when it comes to McLelland's death. Police are being very tight- lipped about, you know, what they know in this case, but we do know that they are looking at all angles.

ROMANS: And what about the atmosphere in the town this morning? How is the community reacting? Obviously, when your law enforcement have been targeted, that's unnerving.

HOWELL: It's a community that's really consumed with fear right now because there are so many unanswered questions. You're not getting a lot of information from police. They're very tight-lipped about what happened. And when you think about it, we're talking about two prosecutors in two months. It's a big deal. Certainly, people believe that this may have been a targeted -- these may have been targeted killings.

But there are just so many unanswered questions. We know at the courthouse today, there will be heightened security. The courthouse will reopen today. But, the D.A.'s office, Christine, that will remain closed as investigators try to get to the bottom of this thing.

ROMANS: All right. George Howell for us in Texas. Thank you, George. BERMAN: Thirty-three minutes after the hour. South Korea, this morning, flexing some of its military muscle, warning that any provocation from the North will be met with a strong response. Pyongyang has ratcheted up the nuclear rhetoric, even declaring a state of war with the South.

New York congressman, Peter King, says he's concerned that with all its threats, North Korea's leader may have boxed himself into a corner.


REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: Kim Jong-Un is trying to establish himself. He's trying to be the tough guy. He's 28, 29 years old, and he's going further and further out. And I don't know if he can get himself back in. So, my concern would be that he may feel to save face he has to launch some sort of attack on South Korea or some base in the pacific.


BERMAN: Meantime, the U.S. deployed stealth fighter jets to South Korea yesterday. Defense officials say it's part of an ongoing joint military exercise between the two countries.

ROMANS: Two men are dead in China, reportedly from a strain of bird flu not previously seen in humans. The men, 27 and 87 years of age, contracted the H7N9 strain. China's official news agency also reports a third person. A 35-year-old woman is in critical condition. Chinese health officials say they don't know how the victims became infected. Their symptoms included coughing and fever which later developed into pneumonia.

BERMAN: In just a few hours, we could learn whether prosecutors in Colorado will seek the death penalty for accused Aurora movie theater shooter, James Holmes. Court documents reveal that Holmes' lawyers offered a guilty plea in exchange for avoiding the death penalty, but prosecutors last week rejected that offer. Holmes is charged with killing 12 people, wounding 58 others inside the Aurora, Colorado, theater last year.

ROMANS: One worker killed, three others injured at a nuclear plant in Russellville, Arkansas about an hour from Littlerock. The power company, Entergy, says the victims were helping move part of a generator out of a building when it fell. Officials say the accident did not take place in a radiation area. There's no danger to the public.

BERMAN: The tiny town of Nelson, Georgia, might order every household in the community to own a gun. A city council vote tonight could make it law. Councilman who proposed the measure says nelson only has one police officer, and when citizens have a problem, it can take a long time for help to arrive. The suburb has a similar law on the books since 1982.

ROMANS: According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Church needs to build a better relationship with the gay and lesbian community. New York's outspoken archbishop telling ABC's George Stephanopoulos it's time for the church to take a more conciliatory approach.


CARDINAL TIMOTHY DOLAN, ARCHBISHOP OF NEW YORK: We got to be -- we got to do better to see that our defense of marriage is not reduced to an attack on gay people. And I admit we haven't been too good at that. We try our darnedest to make sure, we're not as anti-anybody, we're in the defense of what God is talking --


ROMANS: Dolan says he's not sure exactly how the church can improve its outreach to the community, the gay community, but he says the process begins by listening.

BERMAN: A popular television host in Egypt known as the Egyptian Jon Stewart is free on bail this morning. Bassim Youssef was released yesterday after five hours of questioning. The TV satirist is accused of insulting Islam and Egypt's president, Mohamed Morsi. He is the most prominent critic to be called in for questioning in what Egypt's opposition claims is a campaign of intimidation.

ROMANS: All right. A Viking, a race car driver, and a British boy band.

BERMAN: I know this joke.


BERMAN: They'll be among the guests at the 135th Annual White House Easter Egg Roll later this morning. There were fears last month that it could be canceled because of more spending cuts, but the eggs will start rolling at 10:30 a.m. eastern. There'll be 35,000 people from all 50 states attending. And it will be a star-studded lineup. Running back, Adrian Peterson, of the Minnesota Vikings, NASCAR's Danica Patrick, and the boy band, The Wanted, all scheduled to be on hand.

BERMAN: You have all of The Wanted's albums, correct?

ROMANS: I am wanting for any of The Wanted's albums at the moment. Yes.

BERMAN: All right. Thirty-seven minutes after the hour right now. And when the Yankees take the field just a few hours from now on opening day, hopefully, prepared to lose to the Red Sox, they will take the field without their captain for the first time in over a decade. CNN's Rachel Nichols one-on-one with Derek Jeter coming up.


ROMANS: Good morning, again. Welcome back to EARLY START. So, it happens every spring, but opening day 2013 will be much different for one major-leaguer. The Yankees short stop, Derek Jeter, who's starting the season on the disabled list for the first time in more than a decade. Much of the focus this afternoon at Yankee Stadium will be on the victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre. The season opener is dedicated to them.

CNN's Rachel Nichols sat down with the Yankee captain to talk baseball and to talk about the importance of honoring those who lost their lives that day in Newtown, Connecticut.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On opening day, the Yankees and Major League Baseball are going to honor the victims of Sandy Hook. Why do you think that that's particularly important?

DEREK JETER, NEW YORK YANKEES: It's unfortunate. I mean, I don't have children of my own. I have, you know, a younger sister. I have a nephew. And, I can't sit here and tell you how -- how it would feel, but it's unimaginable to think what those families were going through. Horrific incident like that.

And not knowing, you know, going to the school and not knowing whether or not your kids are safe. It's something that -- just mindboggling to think about it.

NICHOLS: You called the mother of one of the teachers, the 27-year- old who was protecting her kids was killed in Sandy Hook. What made you decide to pick up the phone and gave that call?

JETER: Well, first of all, I didn't do that for any attention in doing it. You know, I just understood that she was a big Yankee fan, the mother was a big Yankee fan. I just did it. I thought it would -- you know, just to reach out and say what a hero her daughter truly was, because, you know -- I think, sometimes, people use that term kind of loosely and they say this person is a hero, that was a hero, but, you know, you're speaking about a true hero there.

NICHOLS: The start opening day on the D.L. because of your ankle. What's that going to be like? What's going to be going through your head?

JETER: It's going to be odd. And it's disappointing for me, because, you know, I feel that was my job to be ready for opening day, but it just didn't happen. I just ran out of time to get ready.

NICHOLS: What's different as you're 38 years old from when you're 22 years old?

JETER: Well, I think the thing is you spend much more time getting ready to play. When you're younger, you just show up 30 minutes before. You don't even have to stretch. You go out there and play and you move around. Now you get up at night you got to stretch before you get out of bed. It's a lot more difficult. You spend much more time at the stadium.

NICHOLS: And what about out there? What are you better at now than you were at 22, 23 years old?

JETER: Answering questions from you.

NICHOLS: Well --

JETER: See, a lot of people don't realize I've been answering the questions for years.

NICHOLS: I was going to say, you've been doing this since you were 22, 23 years old.

JETER: We've been working to the for a long time.

NICHOLS: Second act for you, is there anything else that you want to accomplish?

JETER: I really want to win again. I hear from M.J. all the time. He won six times. We won give. So, he's always bragging he's got more. It'd be fun to have just as many as all your friends.


NICHOLS: You have played baseball or thought about baseball or been preparing for baseball every day of your life probably as long as you can remember in one way or the other. What's scary about the idea of not being in the game whenever down the road it does happen?

JETER: I'm pretty sure I'll be involved in the game in some fashion. You know, I want to own a team one day. You know, that's my next goal.

NICHOLS: You think the Yankees are for sale? You could buy this team?

JETER: It's too expensive. Unless, you give me some of your money.

NICHOLS: Would you be like George as an owner?

JETER: In some ways, I would.

NICHOLS: The yelling, the firing? What are we talking --

JETER: I don't know. I still got to hire people -- I'm not going to tell you how bad I'm going to be before I hire --



ROMANS: Derek Jeter, by the way, won't be in the ballpark today. He's rehabbing an injured ankle down in Tampa, Florida. I met his parents recently at an event for his foundation and I asked them. I said, how do you -- I have three little boys, how do you raise a Derek Jeter? And his dad was really interesting.

He said, to be intentional with your kids. When you're spending time with your kids, be there with them as much as you can and be intentional with your children, and I think about that a lot.

BERMAN: He's a really nice guy. It's unfortunate he plays for such a hateful team. Bur Derek Jeter is a very, very --

ROMANS: During that segment, Berman tweeted Red Sox, Red Sox, Red Sox, Red Sox.

BERMAN: I'm a little jealous of Derek Jeter. I mean, who wouldn't be, right?

ROMANS: Jealous is not the word that we're going to use for you when you talk about Derek Jeter, but alas.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-four minutes after the hour. Alone, hurt and hungry. A young woman left stranded on a mountain for six freezing nights. She shares her story of survival. We'll have that story coming up.


BERMAN: Forty-seven minutes after the hour right now. Let's bring you up to speed.

The big story this morning from Kaufman County, Texas for a double murder has a community on high alert this morning. District attorney, Mike McLelland, and his wife, Cynthia, were found shot to death at their home Saturday. This just two months after the prosecutor vowed to find the people responsible for murdering one of his top deputies. Steps from the courthouse. Security has been offered to other county officials and the manhunt is now under way.

ROMANS: It's arraignment day for a California teen who was allegedly drunk when his SUV slammed into a van and killed five members of the same family. The crash happened early Saturday morning in Southeastern Nevada. Police say 18-year-old Gene Soriano's (ph) Dodge Durango slammed into the back of the family van causing it to spin and flip over.

They also say they found beer bottles inside his SUV. Two other people in the van were taken to the hospital in critical condition. A passenger of Soriano's survived.

BERMAN: Louisville's Kevin Ware recovering this morning after successful surgery to repair his shattered leg. Ware's injury happened during his team's regional victory against Duke last night that stopped the game cold. The fracture, I'm telling you, it was so bad, so gruesome we're not going to show it to you. It was the worst thing I've seen in any athletic event, really, ever.

This Instagram picture posted overnight shows Ware in his hospital bed with Louisville's trophy for winning the NCAA Midwest regional. The sophomore guard is expected to remain in the hospital until tomorrow at least. Meantime, Louisville is headed to the final four in Ware's hometown, Atlanta.

ROMANS: All right. A school bus aide arrested over this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



ROMANS: Wow. Police say 37-year-old Donetta MacPherson (ph) repeatedly bullied a five-year-old with disabilities in (INAUDIBLE) all caught on bus camera. Police say she violently screamed at the little boy, reportedly grabbed him, forced him into his seat. She was charged with stalking. We reached out to the school district for comment over the weekend and CNN has not received a response.

BERMAN: The wrongful death trial brought on by Michael Jackson's mother and family against AEG begins tomorrow. The civil lawsuit claims AEG is responsible for Jackson's death because it hired and supervised Conrad Murray. That, of course, the doctor who administered the fatal dose of anesthetic propofol to the 50-year-old pop icon reportedly in an attempt to help him sleep.

ROMANS: Hillary Clinton makes her first paid speaking engagement later this month. It will take place April 24th. She'll address the National Multi-Housing Council in Dallas. She'll reportedly collect a six-figure fee. The former secretary of state will also deliver two unpaid speeches this week at women's leadership events in Washington and New York.

BERMAN: Rory McIlroy apologizing for canceling a humanitarian visit to Haiti. The world's number two golfer was supposed to be in Haiti this morning in his role as a UNICEF ambassador. Instead, he's decided to play in this week's Texas Open. He wants to be better prepared for the Masters, which begins April 11th. McIlroy says it was a caddie who convinced him to do it.

ROMANS: All right. A 23-year-old Oregon woman recovering from severe leg injury and frostbite this morning. She spent six nights stranded on Mount Hood. Hiker, Mary Owen (ph), was rescued Saturday morning by a National Guard helicopter. She credits a stash of snack bars for her survival.


MARY OWEN, RESCUED HIKER: I found out that nutri-grain barred wrappers make really nice kindling, oddly enough. And so, I was able to put together a good fire. It didn't last very long, but it was just because I wasn't -- I didn't have the range of motion to be able to go and collect enough to keep it going very long.

So, I mean, it was enough to dry me out and heat up my hands and stuff, which was good because my hands were getting pretty nasty.


ROMANS: Owen was hiking alone last week when she suddenly encountered whiteout conditions and she became disoriented. She found herself stranded after a 40-foot fall had badly injured her leg. BERMAN: Oh, man. She is lucky.


BERMAN: So, a wet start for parts of the East Coast this morning. The rain is falling. It might affect your travel plans, you'll be happy to hear that. Jennifer Delgado is live this morning in the weather center. Happy Monday, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Happy Monday. You know, we'll call these spring showers. I know it's been a rare sight. But yes, we are starting off the morning with just rain out there and for areas down including the south, just an east of Atlanta as well as into Columbia, South Carolina, looking at some storms, departing off the eastern coastline, but we're still looking at some lightning out there.

For Florida, you'll continue to see a few showers in the morning, but more of that action comes later into the afternoon. Now, for New England, a lot of rain, a little bit of wintry precipitation across parts of Maine as we look across parts of New York, some showers there. We'll also see some lake-effect snow, but the big story there really from areas, including Northern Virginia, here by 8:00 a.m., dense fog advisory in place.

And we're looking at some of these locations where visibility could drop down to quarter mile. That includes areas like Maryland and even down towards the south. Look what's happening towards Louisiana, Mississippi, Nashville, expect some travel delays which are going to be flying out through the morning. Many of those dense fog advisories will expire at 9:00 a.m.

As we show you, some of the high temperatures for today, well, they're going to be pretty cold out there -- about 10 to 20 degrees below average. Today, we'll see a chance for severe storms to pop up right around the Texas panhandle, but look at these numbers out there. For Chicago, today, high of 40 degrees. Yesterday, you're almost near 60 degrees.

For New York, you're going to be average, that is exciting for you. But, as we go to the next couple days, temperatures will be dropping down, 10 to 20 degrees. Opening day for Red Sox and Yankees, maybe I did this just for you, John and Christine. Today, we will see clouds around, temperature 55. It's going to be cool out there with an isolated shower.

BERMAN: I had my afternoon planned all set.


BERMAN: It is warm and toasty in front of my television set. Jennifer Delgado, thank you so much.

DELGADO: You're welcome.

ROMANS: All right. Trouble on the bunny trail. Take a look. The story behind this picture. There it is.


ROMANS: Coming up next!


ROMANS: Good morning. Welcome back. It's 57 minutes past the hour, taking a look at the top CNN Trends online this morning on this April Fools' Day.

Google pulling off an elaborate April Fools' prank, releasing a video claiming YouTube has been nothing more than an eight-year contest with the winner finally being chosen and the site shutting down. More than a few YouTube users actually bought it.

BERMAN: Really?

ROMANS: Google claims YouTube will go dark for ten years before re- launching in 2023. That was supposed to happen last night at midnight. Last check, YouTube was still there. And Google didn't stop there.

The internet giant also offering its users the ability to search by smell. Yes, by smell. A video promoting the new Google nose beta offers the sharpest olfactory experience available.

BERMAN: See, that's funny.


BERMAN: All right. Also trending this morning, looks like even the Easter Bunny not above the law. This sad rabbit on his way to a charity event when he was pulled over on a highway near San Diego. The reason, you guess it. He wasn't wearing a helmet in the Easter spirit, though, the California highway patrol officer did give the bunny a break.

Apparently, he got off with just a warning. The big question, look at the guy, right? The question is how do you get a helmet that fits on top of that head, right?

ROMANS: That is a big question. I mean, civil disobedience, I guess, to get to his event without wearing the helmet.

BERMAN: So, to check out the other top CNN Trends, head to our blog,

ROMANS: EARLY START continues right now.