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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Texas County District Attorney Killed; College Basketball Player Breaks Leg During Game; Man Crashes Car into California Walmart; Opening Day for MLB

Aired April 1, 2013 - 07:00   ET

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


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning to you. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Our STARTING POINT this morning -- premeditated, well-orchestrated, and anything but random. That is what investigators are saying about the cold-blooded murder of a Texas district attorney and his wife. Those shootings happened nearly two months after a prosecutor was also murdered in Kaufman County. We're live there in Texas with the very latest this morning.

BERMAN: And then, new details this morning about the mysterious abduction of two people off a New York City street. This happened in broad daylight, but this morning, police think they know what's behind this, and it's not what you think.

BALDWIN: And some new details this morning about what some are saying is the most horrific sports injury ever caught on camera. If you were watching this game last night, you know exactly what I'm talking about. We'll tell you how Kevin Ware is this morning. How Ware and his broken leg are doing this morning and also what about future playing? We'll find out.

BERMAN: That was just awful.

And before you get pranked today, we'll tell you about all the April Fools' tricks out there this morning from YouTube to Twitter to Google. Be prepared.

BALDWIN: Hmm.

BERMAN: It is Monday. It is April 1st. STARTING POINT begins right now.

And our STARTING POINT is in Texas where a district attorney who vowed to hunt down his deputy's killer has, himself, become a murder victim. Mike McLelland and his wife gunned down this weekend in their home southeast of Dallas. This is the same county where less than two months ago McLelland's colleague Mark Hasse was shot and killed on his way to work.

BALDWIN: A manhunt is under way for the killer, possibly killers, and the small Dallas suburb certainly on edge this morning. George Howell is live from Kaufman, Texas. And George I know investigators, they're not saying a lot yet are they in terms of any more on these, killings.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, no, they're not. And you know, as far as linking these two killings, they're not doing that either. But when you talk to people here in town, when you talk to public officials, they do make the point, they say that these men, these prosecutors worked very closely together on similar cases. Many people believe the people we spoke to believe that this may have been a revenge hit. Again, police are not linking the killings, they are not giving any more information as to what they've already put out there, but the unanswered questions, Brooke, in this case have this community consumed with fear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE MCLELLAND, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: 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: A promise from Kaufman County, Texas, district attorney Mike McLelland two months ago to the unknown killer of an assistant D.A. in his office, a promise, though, he would never see fulfilled. Saturday night police found the bodies of the D.A. and his wife Cynthia at their home.

DAVID BYRNES, KAUFMAN COUNTY SHERIFF: They both had been shot and we are in the process of completing the crime scene workup right now.

HOWELL: An investigator says police found several shell casings inside the home from a high-powered rifle.

BYRNES: It's pretty obvious it's unnerving, and it's unnerving to the law enforcement community. It's unnerving to the community at large.

HOWELL: There are no suspects. And the sheriff's office has not officially said whether the McLelland's deaths are connected to the killing of Kaufman county assistant D.A., who was shot outside the county courthouse in January. The sheriff says extra precautions are being taken to protect county elected officials, as well as the public.

BYRNES: There will be complete security at the courthouse tomorrow, visible security.

HOWELL: McLelland said his coworkers were like a family, but they all knew their job came with risks.

MCLELLAND: When you deal with bad people on a regular basis, you know that there's always the potential for these bad people to do something bad to you, because they've already done something bad to somebody else. And so they could always concentrate and backlash on you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And George Howell, thank you very much. Pete Schulte is live with us this morning. He's an attorney who handled multiple cases in Kaufman County, also knew Mike McLelland. Good morning to you. If you can, just help us understand, as we mentioned you met Mike McLelland on several occasions. Just the mood in this smaller, Texas, county, how palpable is the fear there?

PETE SCHULTE, KNEW TEXAS DISTRICT ATTORNEY MIKE MCLELLAND: You know, the law enforcement community here is very uncomfortable. I mean we're talking about, you know, we have a county just west of here, Dallas county has got about 2 million people in it and we're standing in a county that's got about 100,000 people in the entire county. Everybody knew each other here. It was a great place to practice law. Everybody liked the district attorney's office. There just wasn't a lot of activity out here.

So the biggest shock out here this morning is why, in Kaufman, Texas, are we having an assistant D.A. get killed and an elected D.A. It's really sending some shockwaves through the community.

BERMAN: You say you're on edge. Mike McLelland had been talking reportedly by the press, had been talking about carrying a handgun every minute of every day even when he was talking about a dog just for extra protection. He was also very public about his hunt for the killer in the Hasse case. Let's listen to what he said right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCLELLAND: Anything that you people can do to accelerate getting our hands on this scum will be appreciated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: Now that first killing was two months ago now. Why do you think there hasn't been more, at least public leads in that first case?

SCHULTE: You know, there just hasn't been a lot of information that's been provided. I mean, you know, the killing of Mark Hasse, who was the assistant D.A., there was some speculation that it may not have been tied to his work at the D.A.'s office. It could have been something personal of nature. And it really didn't make a lot of headlines.

I think now that the elected D.A. here has been killed and it's making national headlines hopefully we're going to get some leads and law enforcement personnel down here to find out who's responsible. I mean we've got to. I mean this is our local criminal justice system. Most people who they're going to deal with it are going to deal with it at the county level. And taking out the elected D.A. in such a small county in Texas makes every elected D.A. vulnerable. And that's the mood this morning.

BALDWIN: Let me also ask you we just saw the clip with Mike McLelland referring to these killers as scum. He's this 23-year-old army veteran, tough talking guy. What's the talk around town about that?

SCHULTE: Yes, he was. He was an army veteran, practiced law here for several years, 18 years before he ran for first public office. Three years ago, in 2010, and beat out the incumbent district attorney three years ago and took over. He kept a lot of the same personnel out here. He kept the same policies and procedures in place, and he was very well liked. People would see him throughout the town. He was very personable. Everybody knew that when he was in charge, you know, communities in Kaufman would be safe. So, great guy. I mean it's a big loss for the entire north Texas region.

BALDWIN: It's absolutely tragic all the way around. Thank you very much. We're going to talk much more on this story. We'll talk to the Kaufman county judge Bruce wood. He worked with McLelland and Hasse and in the next hour we're talk to the may William Fortner and Texas Congressman Ted Poe.

BERMAN: Everyone is talking about one game and one awful moment in the final four march madness. Louisville sophomore guard Kevin Ware shattering his leg. This was so awful, so gruesome, it left players and coaches on both teams in tears. We're not even going to show it to you because frankly it is just too tough to watch this morning.

Kevin Ware did put out this Instagram picture overnight. Shows him in a hospital bed with Louisville's trophy. They did go on to win the game. They won the
CNN's Jared Greenberg is live in Atlanta. I've never seen anything like this, Jared.

JARED GREENBERG, CNN SPORTS CERTAINLY: Certainly not on the basketball court. You would expect an injury like this from football or soccer or hockey. This is the talk of the country, Kevin Ware's injury. He will not be available for the final four. The sophomore is providing his teammates with a level of motivation that simply cannot be measured. Known for his tenacious defense his injury occurred when he gave his all attempting to contest a shot. The aftermath left everyone in the stadium stunned.

Emotion between the lines, as you know, is a rare sight, especially when it has nothing to do with winning or losing. Tears were everywhere as Louisville felt for a fallen teammate as ware was rushed to a hospital the cardinals played inspired basketball outscoring Duke by 19 in the second half earning Louisville a trip to the final four this year to be played in Atlanta, not far from Ware's high school, a destination that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said is a bittersweet next step on the cardinals' mission to win a title.

(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: Surgery to repair ware's broken leg was successful. He'll remain in the hospital until at least tomorrow. The school says they are hopeful that he will return with the team and hopefully travel to Atlanta for the Final Four.

BERMAN: That would be amazing if he makes that trip. Jared, thanks to you.

BALDWIN: Just the presence on the court will help his team come Saturday. I want to talk a little bit more about this injury with CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen. And I know this was an open fracture, his right tibia. He's already undergone surgery. What did doctors have to do, Elizabeth?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The first thing you mentioned that it broke the skin, Brooke, so the first thing they worry about is infection, making sure to keep that site clean. Then they go in and do surgery. They fixed it, they did this very quickly.

I was talking to orthopedic surgeons not involved with his care, and they said it looked gruesome but it's relatively easy to fix. You put a rod, steel or titanium, put a rod in that bone so he's now got a rod in his shin bone, and it works quite well. It was a two-hour surgery. And believe it or not, Brooke, they told me that people on him are standing up on crutches the next day, like today.

BALDWIN: No way.

COHEN: So even though it looks so horrible it really is quite fixable.

BERMAN: We should all be hoping for is that he gets up and walks again. He's perfectly healthy. But there are a lot of people asking this question right now, could he possibly get back on the court sometime next season?

COHEN: You know, the orthopedist I speak to, both of whom have treated athletes with these kinds of injuries, they said yes. They said they were very hopeful that he would be up and playing basketball maybe in like six months or so. They said it's really, again, relatively easy to repair these, intensive physical therapy, every day for many months. But they thought in six months, let's say when the next season starts, that he would be able to play. They said they've seen it happen with other professional and college athletes.

BERMAN: Let's hope that's the case. That would be amazing. Elizabeth Cohen our thanks to you.

COHEN: Thanks.

BERMAN: Christine Romans has the rest of the day's top stories.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to both of you. New this morning, a rescue mission gone tragically wrong in the Alaska wilderness. A state trooper's helicopter picked up a person stranded on a snow mobile Saturday night, then the chopper went down. The wreckage was found yesterday. Authorities say they didn't find any survivors. The pilot, a trooper, and the rescued snowmobiler were onboard. It's not clear why that helicopter crashed.

New developments in what looked like a brazen kidnapping in New York. Police now think the whole thing was staged. Surveillance cameras caught the apparent kidnappers on tape eventually they forced a couple into a minivan and speed off. The NYPD says no one in the area has been reported missing. They think a group of friends did this as some kind of elaborate birthday prank.

South Korea's president promising to strike back if the north stages an attack. It comes just as the U.S. deployed two health fighters to Seoul for joint military exercises. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ratcheted up the nuclear rhetoric of late. New York Congressman Peter Ling says Kim as a diplomat unknown and shouldn't be taken lightly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETE KING, (R) NEW YORK: It's not an empty threat. I wouldn't be that concerned about the mainland U.S. right now, or even any U.S. territory. I think the real threat is to what North Korea might be boxing itself into. Kim Jong-un is trying to establish himself. He's trying to be the tough guy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Over the weekend, North Korea declared it was a state of war with the South.

Power company officials say a deadly accident at a nuclear plant in Arkansas did not put the public in danger. One worker was killed, three others injured. Entergy, the power company, says the victims were helping move part of a generator out of the building when the generator fell and they insist the accident did not happen in a radiation area and the reactor was not affected.

Three people killed in a spectacular 95-vehicle crash along the Virginia/North Carolina border, 25 others taken to hospitals. This crash is described as a series, a chain of 17 separate wrecks. In one of them, the bed of a tractor trailer caught fire after it collided with six cars. All lanes of interstate 77 have now been reopened. Investigators say they believe weather was a factor.

Meteorologist Jennifer Delgado joins us now to explain. Good morning.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. You're right, weather was a factor, especially when you have visibility down to less than a quarter mile. That's what we're seeing for some of those reports.

Now, the area zoom in a bit more for you located roughly about eight miles north of North Carolina into Virginia right along mile marker six. It's in Carroll County. As we zoom in for you. Want to point out the ridges here. Of course these are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When you get interstate 11, which is basically moving through a valley area you get this fog and it sets up and some of these locations we're talking about fog can develop very quickly and dissipate very quickly as well. But sometimes it takes longer like what we saw on that car accident.

As I take you over and show you our graphic, if you happen to be caught up in fog, make sure you slow down. And if you're driving, your first instinct is to turn those bright lights on but the problem is when you turn your lights on bright that actually causes the light to reflect off the fog. So that reduces your visibility even more. And don't try to drive close and try to ride the taillights of the person ahead of you because, of course, somebody can come hit you from right from behind.

Talking about fog, we do have an advisory in place for northern Virginia as well as into Maryland. This is in place until 9:00 a.m. we're seeing visibility down to half mile, even down to one-eighth of a mile in parts. Make sure you're careful on the roadways and the same for areas down toward the south also dealing with the same advisory until about 9:00 a.m. Christine you have to be careful on the road and drive slowly.

ROMANS: All right, Jennifer Delgado, thanks. That was 17 separate wrecks. Chain reaction, took hours, hours for tow truck drivers to pull all those cars off the road.

BALDWIN: I wish that was a joke or a prank. It's not. But it is April 1st. Watch your back today. I'm just saying watch your back. I'm a little bit of a prankster. Google searching for creative new ways to prank it to users. On this April Fool's day the Internet giant putting out a video claiming YouTube has been nothing more than an eight-year contest, insisting it will take a decade to go through all the injuries with the site going dark until 2023. That was supposed to happen last night at midnight. Last check YouTube still there.

BERMAN: Yes. I actually like this one better from Google. They actually say they're offering now their first Google smell offering right here. You can search for video promoting smells. You can, you know, search for things like --

BALDWIN: Toasty s'mores.

BERMAN: S'mores, like wet dog. Things like that. It's, it's an experience now that Google says they want to offer. There's also a new Twitter prank.

BALDWIN: No consonants.

BERMAN: No consonants. The company says they're offering two tiered service, right. You can get the no consonant -- the no vowel service right now for free.

BALDWIN: Hey, it helps in the 140 characters or less.

BERMAN: If you want to pay an extra $5 you can include vowels.

BALDWIN: Are your little boys aware of April fools'? BERMAN: Every day is April fool's day with them. I --

BALDWIN: The cutest little twins.

BERMAN: Yeah, they're cute until they start messing with you, which is like every day. They don't need April fools' day. I hope they're not watching right now.

BALDWIN: We'll see. We'll see.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT. Wild story out of California. The car slams into a Walmart as the driver leaps out, starts attacking bewildered customers. What's going on? We're live. We'll tell you what happened after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Walmart shoppers in San Jose, California, were left dazed and terrified this weekend when a driver crashed his car through the superstore's entrance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden I see all kinds of people running and screaming towards the back of the Walmart. Like, what's going on?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: That crash was just the beginning. Nick Valencia is live from Los Angeles. Nick, what happened here?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just terrifying situation there in San Jose. Witnesses say he was driving erratically in the parking lot before he was see plowing through the front entrance. He could have been going as fast as 40 miles per hour. Police say he got out of the car, picked up a blunt object in the store, and used it as a weapon against customers. He started attacking them, John. It was obviously a very scary situation for those people inside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He almost ran me over, and some guy picked my bike up hit the back of his car and he was going inside the car -- I mean inside the front door I mean -- I mean he was in there to hurt people you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Now four people were hurt including one Walmart employee who was hurt seriously. We also understand that customers played an instrumental role in subduing the attacker. They tied him up until police got there. We're not hearing very many details about the suspect other than he's in his 30's. So far police have not released a motive. John?

BERMAN: I got to say the picture of that car in the Walmart is just crazy.

BALDWIN: Crazy.

BERMAN: Nick Valencia in Los Angeles, thanks so much.

VALENCIA: Unbelievable.

BERMAN: It is nuts. Twenty minutes after the hour. That aside, it is frankly the best day of the year. It is opening day! Lots of folks will be lining up for beer, for hot dogs. How much will you be shelling out for the stadium staples at your ball park? We're going to tell you all the different prices. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Good morning, welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Christine Romans minding your business today. It's a new month and a new quarter and so far stock futures point to a slightly lower open. But that's really not much of a surprise, because look at that first quarter. Double digit gains last quarter. The S&P ended at a record high. Today's drop comes as China takes steps to cool its red-hot housing market. In this country, the job market is recovering. But a new study shows only a few cities have fully bounced back from the recession. "The Wall Street Journal" says 14, just 14, of the nation's 100 biggest cities have more jobs today than they did before the recession. Six of the 14 cities are in Texas. Thanks to a strong employment trend now in oil and gas ,and the fact the recession didn't hit Texas as hard as other places. Nationwide there are still 3 million fewer jobs than when the recession started in 2007.

And it's opening day at ball parks across the country. In honor of that CNN Money did a survey to see which locations charge the most for a beer and a hot dog. New York Mets fans pay the most for a hot dog -- $6.25. For that, in Cincinnati, Reds fans can get six hot dogs. The most economical of all 30 teams. As for beer the most expensive is at the Washington National's ball park at $8 for 16 ounces. Arizona Diamondbacks and Cleveland Indian fans can order a beer for half that price. Several ball parks say they're cutting prices to bring in more fans. Check out CNNMoney.com to see how your team stacks up, Berman.

BERMAN: I have a date with the couch and the refrigerator at 1:00 today.

BALDWIN: I've arranged for the entire Red Sox team to be here this morning. April fools.

BERMAN: Oh, man.

BALDWIN: Sorry.

BERMAN: Tied for first today.

ROMANS: We should have prepared him for the interview.

BALDWIN: Undefeated, thus far. BERMAN: The undefeated Boston Red Sox take the field today against the Yankees at Yankee stadium. Sigh, 26 minutes after the hour.

Ahead on STARTING POINT we're going to continue to follow this intense manhunt in Texas this morning. They're looking for the killer or killers of a district attorney and his wife. We're going to hear from a judge who worked with Mike McLelland, that's coming up next.

BALDWIN: Also this morning, two people in China have died from a mysterious strain of the bird flu. Never before detected in humans. How serious is this? We'll talk to our medical team on that this morning.

BERMAN: And this is an amazing story. A hiker rescued after she was stuck for six days in the mountains. We're going to tell you how she survived this order deal coming up. One word, wrappers helped her out. We'll tell you all about it. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Bottom of the hour here, on Monday. Welcome back to STARTING POINT. This intense manhunt is under way in suburban Dallas right now. Police are trying to find whoever gunned down this district attorney and his wife in their own home.