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EARLY START WITH JOHN BERMAN AND ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN

: Texas Officials Targeted; South Korea's Warning to the North; One Killed, Three Hurt at Nuclear Plant; Stranded Hiker Survives on Snack Bars; Horrific Leg Injury to Louisville Player Halts Game

Aired April 1, 2013 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Is someone hunting down prosecutors and killing them in Texas? A district attorney slain just months after the murder of his deputy.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The price of victory. Louisville's Kevin Ware waking up in the hospital this morning after doctors operated on a really gruesome leg fracture. His team, though, moving on to the Final Four.

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

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

ROMANS: You seem so happy for a Monday.

I'm Christine Romans. I'm in for Zoraida today. Monday, April 1st, 29 minutes past the hour.

All right. On top of the news this morning, a double murder on a suburban -- in suburban community as police on, on a manhunt this morning, an entire neighborhood on edge. The district attorney and his wife found gunned down at their home in Kaufman County, about 30 miles 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 the middle of the day, near a courthouse as he walked to work. So far, police have no suspects, no motive for these murders.

George Howell is live in Kaufman, Texas, for us this morning. George, police haven't publicly linked these two cases. But, obviously, there's speculation they're connected. These two men worked together.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine, good morning. That is the case. They worked together very closely, prosecuting similar cases. And we're hearing from public officials here, in this county, who say they believe that these men may have been targeted in a revenge hit. But again police are not saying that they are not linking the killings. But when you listen back to what McLelland said, he was very passionate, about finding the person who killed Hasse. This is a person who he said was a prosecutor who took pride in putting the bad guys behind bars. And he was very adamant about finding his killers.

Chilling to listen to exactly how he said it just after Hasse's murder. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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, and we're going to bring you back and let the people of Kaufman County prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So when you listen to the way he said it, you know, pull you out of whatever hole you're in, even in another instance describing the person, the gunman as scum, this prosecutor didn't pull any punches Christine when taking his case to the public to find Hasse's killer.

ROMANS: George, what can you tell us about questions this morning about the white supremacist group the Aryan Brotherhood and any potential involvement there?

HOWELL: Well, to be very clear, that has been no connection, no link at this point connecting it to McLelland's death. But I do want to go back to December. We know that the Texas DPS, the Department of Public Safety here, they put out a bulletin stating that they had credible information that the Aryan Brotherhood was actively planning retaliation against law enforcement.

We also know that these prosecutors in Kaufman County, that they handled some prosecutions of the Aryan Brotherhood, along with other counties, along with other D.A.s here in the state.

So, that question did come up after Hasse's murder. But again, to be very clear, there's been no connection at this point with the murder of the McLellands, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. George Howell in Texas for us -- thanks, George.

BERMAN: We want to bring in Tom Fuentes, a former FBI assistant director, now a CNN contributor. And, Tom, good morning. Thanks for coming in.

I want to start right off the bat with that question you just heard George talking about right there, the issue of the Aryan Brotherhood. There have been these reports that perhaps they may be tied up, they were cited for possibly wanting to be involved with revenge killings as recently as December.

Explain to me who this group really is and what they're capable of.

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the group is not a direct affiliate with the Aryan Brotherhood nationwide. But they're a splinter group and basically affiliated by philosophy. These white supremacist groups basically hate the government, they hate the fact that the government basically they look at it as being too supportive of minority groups, and they hate that.

They think that white people should be in charge and only white people and that anybody who is not white should not be in the U.S. not be allowed to have any type of rights other than maybe being a slave. That's how they think.

And the groups like this have been in existence for a long time. The FBI has fought these groups for decades going back to the KKK, going back to the order. Other Aryan Brotherhood type groups that have existed in many different factions for a long time.

BERMAN: So, Tom, if there was this what we're told is credible information at December that this splinter group from the Aryan Brotherhood was planning some kind of revenge attacks on law officials, two questions here, do you think enough was done to protect officials in this area?

And number two, I mean it's been two months since the first murder right now. You know, why don't you think there's been any progress in making any arrests?

FUENTES: Well, you can't say there hasn't been progress. We don't know completely what going on behind the scenes. But, the issue here is that a number of counties and jurisdictions were involved in a major task force to address the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, and indictments were returned back in 2012, in November and December, charging a number of people.

So, in the first murder of assistant district attorney Hasse, why was he singled out? You have all these county prosecutors, all of the law enforcement, the police, Department of Public Safety from Texas, that have been working together on these -- addressing these groups for a long time. Why was he singled out first?

In the second case, with district attorney McLelland, as we just heard in the tape, he challenged them and basically, you know, they fought back. So if -- or whoever, whoever was the killer in this case, and it may not be the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. That's the other issue.

It's an obvious pick that they may have been involved but investigators can't just rely on that. And when you don't have a particular group or person claiming credit, it's going to make it very difficult for them to find out through sources, through investigation, in a number of states, including especially Texas, to link them to it.

So that's the problem now. It's going to be a very, very difficult investigation if no one comes forward. And you could have people coming forward, talking to each other, bragging about it, within their community, and somebody leaks that out to law enforcement, that a particular individual is bragging about having committed these murders --

(CROSSTALK)

BERMAN: Hey, Tom, as you point out, there's been a lot of talk about this being the Aryan brotherhood somehow involved here. But if it's not the Aryan Brotherhood, in your experience, where else do you think they shutting casting their eye right now?

FUENTES: Well, the problem is that if you're a prosecutor, like Mr. Hasse or Mr. McLelland, you're not making a lot of friends every day when you're having people, you know, have their liberty taken away from them.

When you're prosecuting individuals, they get sent to prison, they may not believe that they should have gone to prison or that the criminal justice system was fair to them. And that the prosecutor shouldn't have done it, shouldn't have prosecuted them. They make a lot of enemies every day of the week as part of the job -- so do police officers and federal agents, judges, you name it.

So anybody involved in the criminal justice system all the way up, as we saw in Colorado, with the director of corrections, Tom Clements, people are out there that you deal with that hate you, and if they get an opportunity, may take your life.

BERMAN: Which is why there is a lot of fear, a lot of concern in Kaufman County, Texas, right now. Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director. Thanks so much for joining us.

ROMANS: New developments from South Korea. The country's president warning the North that provocative action will be met with a, quote, "strong response." It comes as the U.S. deployed stealth fighter jets in the region as part of joint military exercises.

New York Congressman Peter King says he's concerned that with all of these threats, the North Korean leader may be forced into doing something rash.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Kim Jung Un is trying to establish himself, he's trying to be the tough guy. He's 28, 29 years old, and he keeps going further and further out. 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: North Korea ratcheted up the rhetoric again this weekend, declaring it was in a state of war with the South.

BERMAN: One worker was killed, three others injured at a nuclear plant in Russellville, Arkansas, about an hour away from Little Rock. Entergy, which is the power company, says the victims were helping move part of a generator out of a building when it fell. Power officials say the accident did not happen in a radiation area and that there is just no danger to public right now.

ROMANS: So the tiny town of Nelson, Georgia, might soon compel every household in the community to own a gun. A city council vote tonight would make it a law. The councilman who proposed the measure says, look, Nelson only has one police officer and when citizens have a problem it can take a long time for help to arrive. An Atlanta suburb has had a similar law since 1982.

BERMA: So a Viking, a race car driver and a British boy band -- sounds like they have a great show up there -- they will be among the guests at the 135th annual White House Easter egg roll later this morning. There were fears last month that the event would be canceled because of forced spending cuts. Romans whispered that so I did, too.

But the eggs will be rolling at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. There will be 35,000 people from all 50 states attending. 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, The Wanted will be there, all scheduled to attend. Very exciting.

ROMANS: It's unclear if they'll be making statements on forced spending cuts.

BERMAN: The Wanted actually has very firm positions on the sequester. They'll be speaking at length during the Easter egg roll no doubt.

Thirty-nine minutes after the hour right now.

Alone, hurt and hungry -- a young woman stranded on a mountain for six, six freezing nights. She shares her story of survival. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: All right. Brooke Baldwin joins us with a look at what's ahead on "STARTING POINT." Good morning.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, guys. Good to see you all. Ahead this morning here on "STARTING POINT", something I know you talked about a bunch this morning, this manhunt under way after a Texas County district attorney and his wife were found dead in their home. One of the questions we're asking, is this at all connected to the murder of that assistant district attorney from a little more than two months ago. We'll go there.

We're going to talk with a County Judge Bruce Wood, the Kaufman Mayor William Fortner and Texas Congressman Ted Poe who himself was a former judge, former prosecutor who was threatened. We're going to talk to him.

Plus, cringe worthy. An excruciating moment during the Louisville/Duke game last night that I know a lot of you are talking about this morning and tweeting about here. This will go down in sports history.

BERMAN: It was awful. BALDWIN: Awful. Awful doesn't even cover it. Cardinals forward Kevin Ware's leg snapped in half in front of millions of viewers and fans and players. How is he doing? I've seen a picture at least on Instagram sitting in his hospital bed holding that trophy. We'll look at that.

Also this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anybody who knows me, knows my character, knows --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: She is the star of Bravo's new show called "Married to Medicine". Quad Webb-Lunceford to share the drama. This show just premiered. It raked in something like 1.9 million viewers the first Sunday night.

So, she has some new sayings. We'll have her teach them to you Berman.

BERMAN: Oh, I can't wait.

BALDWIN: Yes, can't wait, this morning on "STARTING POINT."

ROMANS: Cool. All right. Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks you.

ROMANS: Well, now the bad news. A wet start for parts of the East Coast this morning. A cold day to be had in the sand for opening day.

Jennifer Delgado in the CNN weather center. Good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, guys. You're right. We have spring showers out there, but the good news is, overall for the northeast, some of those big gains. We're not expecting anything significant rainfall wise. Now, down towards the south right now, we are looking at showers out there to start off your morning through Central Park to Georgia as well as into South Carolina and North Carolina.

But no severe storms out there and some scattered showers still working off the western coastline of Florida. But up towards the northeast, as well as new England, fairly quiet there. You can see a mixed precipitation affecting areas like Portland, Maine, but mainly just some rain. Western parts of New York, some scattered showers out there. We're also going to be looking at a little bit of lake-effect snow.

And we do have a lake effect watch in place. But for this morning, if you're going to be heading out today, make sure you grab an umbrella. Of course, if you're in the south as well as the northeast, we're talking really about a 20 percent chance of rainfall, but you also really need to get that coat because jet stream is back in action again. It's bringing temperatures that are well below average for this time of the year.

We're talking 10 to 20 degrees below where they should be. And we have that nice warm-up over the weekend, but say good-bye to that. Look at those temperatures, 40 for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We should be in the 50s and then for areas like Kansas City, your temperature is running 10 to 15 degrees below average. How is that going to affect opening day? It's going to feel more like playoff weather, I would say, if you want to call it that.

Tigers as well as the Twins kicking off today at 4:10, and they don't kick off because they have first pitch. I do know this despite the fact it may sound like I'm not a sports fan. Royals at White Sox 30 degrees with first pitch at 4:10. And those temperatures there running 10 to 15 degrees below average.

Yesterday in Chicago, you had temps almost near 60 degrees. Phillies and Braves, much better, 67 degrees. Let's send it back over to you, guys.

ROMANS: For a non-sports fan, this is a confusing time of the year, one of several confusing times of the year.

DELGADO: I know.

ROMANS: But you have March Madness and you have opening of baseball and it's still 30 degrees outside.

DELGADO: I talk degrees. I don't talk --

(LAUGHTER)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We don't want to confuse you with this.

ROMANS: I know. I just get my morning debrief from Berman. What's happening --

BERMAN: They play basketball inside. They play baseball outside most often. It is very cold in some of the places they're playing baseball this morning, including Chicago, Minneapolis. Hear Jennifer said, they could have temperatures really, really low there. Not fun at all. But here in New York where the Red Sox Will be playing the Yankees, it will be fine.

An incredible story of survival today. A 23-year-old Oregon woman recovering from a severe leg injury and frostbite this morning after spending six nights stranded on Mount Hood. Mary Owen was rescued Saturday morning by the National Guard and credits a stash of snack bars for her survival.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Owen was hiking alone when she suddenly had to deal with whiteout condition. She became disoriented. She got stranded after falling 40 feet and badly injuring her leg.

ROMANS: All right. The big talk this morning. Courage in the face of a horrifying injury. The Louisville basketball star who inspired his team to go on and win without him. The latest on Kevin Ware's condition as his team heads to the final four.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: College basketball's final four now set after yesterday's games, but man, the Louisville Cardinals will be without a player after a gruesome leg injury.

Jared Greenberg is here with that and other things with today's Bleacher Report. Hey, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, John, it was just a horrific scene, one that will live in the forefront of people's minds for as long as we know. We won't show you the actual injury to Louisville sophomore, Kevin Ware, however, the aftermath was simply surreal. Raw emotion rare between the lines as players, coaches, and fans couldn't believe the graphic nature of ware's injury.

A broken leg forcing the pause button to be hit on one of the most anticipated games of the season. Everyone in attendance was visibly shaken with their teammate headed to the hospital, Louisville regrouped. What was once a one-point lead when Ware went down was briefly lost to Duke. Then, the Cardinals went on a run. Turning a tight game into a one-sided affair, sending Louisville to the final four in Atlanta.

Mission accomplished with more meaning than ever. Afterwards, Coach Rick Pitino (ph) said Ware told his teammates to, quote, "win the game."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK PITINO, LOUISVILLE HEAD COACH: If we let up for a second, then Kevin Ware doesn't mean how much he means to us. I said, we're going to dig in. We're going to play this game to the end. We're going to get him back home, nurse him to good health, and we're going to get him to Atlanta.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GREENBERG: Where he attended high school. Here's a picture tweeted of Ware from his hospital bed, holding the Midwest regional trophy. Surgery to repair the broken bone in Ware's leg was successful. He'll remain in the hospital until at least tomorrow. Twenty years after their last trip to the final four, Michigan is two wins away from the national title. Nik Stauskas was on fire, leading Michigan to a wire-to-wire. No doubt about it victory over Florida. Michigan advances to take on Syracuse.

The Wolverines and Orange, a classic offense versus defense match-up, and we'll see how the emotion carries over for Louisville when they take on this year's Cinderella, Wichita State. The national semi- finals Saturday from Atlanta with the national champion to be crowned Monday night.

The victims of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook elementary were remembered as the 2013 baseball season got under way last night. After 50 years playing at the national league, Houston played its first-ever game as a member of the American league. With a team payroll less than what Alex Rodriguez will make this season, and he is not likely to play for a while because of injury, the Astros powered their way to an opening night win.

First full day of baseball today. A couple of notable match-ups. The latest chapter in the most intense rivalry in the game will be written as Boston travels to New York to take on the Yankees. The defending champion giants start in L.A. against the Dodgers. And a time honored tradition continues as the Reds open at home. They'll face the Angels. Be sure to check out BleacheRreport.com's major league baseball power rankings.

And something new for the baseball season this year, for the first time, virtually, every day, we'll have at least one interleague game, not making traditionalists very happy.

BERMAN: That is kind of tough to take, Jared. I'm looking at the Reds/Angels on opening day. I'm like, really?

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: That's interesting.

GREENBERG: It's not the Cubs coming to down.

BERMAN: No. All right. Jared Greenberg, thank you so much. Go Red Sox.

ROMANS: All right. It's April Fools' day, and there are some elaborate pranks online already. Google releasing a video claiming YouTube has been nothing more than an eight-year contest. They finally have chosen a winner and the site now shut down for ten more years. More than a few YouTube users actually fell for that one.

BERMAN: Now, that was not all from Google. It is also offering Google Nose today, the ability to search the web by smell from lemons to wet dogs. I love that one. Also, Twitter is getting into the April Fools' spirit, too, with the consonant only site Twtr. Get to sound it out Twtr. No vowels there.

The company writes, "Starting today, we are shifting to a two-tier service. Everyone can use our basic service, but you only get consonants. For $5 a month, you can use our premium Twitter service which also includes vowels."

ROMANS: All right. EARLY START, without an April Fools' prank, right back after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: That's it for EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" begins right now.