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Rutgers University Under Fire; Murder of Texas District Attorney; Korean Tensions; Mandela on the Mend; Ware Back on Campus; Yu Got To Be Kidding Me!; Conrad Murray Maintains His Innocence; Apple Working on Next iPhone

Aired April 3, 2013 - 06:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A college coach crossing the line. Just shocking abuse of his own players caught on camera. The school knew about this a while ago. So why wasn't he fired?


CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN: (SINGING) He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: That's the sad song of Michael Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, singing the blues in a CNN exclusive, saying he's a scapegoat in the King of Pop's death.

BERMAN: Pedal to the metal, a suspect in a stolen cab with cops in hot pursuit at speeds topping 100 miles per hour.

ROMANS: Almost perfect. Today poised to pull off one of baseball's rarest feats, watching the bid for history slip right through his legs.

Good morning.

BERMAN: That close.

ROMANS: So close.

BERMAN: He was that close.

ROMANS: That happened 25 times?

BERMAN: Twenty-four. We (INAUDIBLE) 24 in that thing.

ROMANS: Wow! All right. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Zoraida is off today. It's Wednesday, April 3rd. It is 6:00 a.m. in the East. And we're going to start with this shocking video that has so many people talking this morning. Rutgers University now reconsidering its decision to retain basketball coach, Mike Rice, after this video surfaced which shows him verbally and physically abusing players at practice. He's seen grabbing them, shoving them, kicking them, even throwing players (sic) at their feet and their heads. He also uses gay slurs. Now Rice was fined and suspended by the school last fall. But we didn't know exactly why until the tape first appeared yesterday on ESPN. It has since really gone viral.

ROMANS: CNN's Pamela Brown is following developments for us. Good morning, Pamela. Certainly, this is the talker overnight.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sure is. I think so many people were shocked to see this video yesterday. Rutgers University officials are facing some tough questions this morning, on why they didn't fire Rice after learning of the allegations last summer and then seeing the video several months ago.

As pressure mounts for further action, many people including some NBA stars are sounding off about Rice's homophobic rants and abuse toward his players.


BROWN (voice-over): Hurtling basketballs at players' legs even their heads. Grabbing, pushing, kicking, and punching them, and screaming homophobic slurs.

This video obtained by ESPN's "Outside The Lines" shows Rutgers head basketball Coach Mike Rice going off the handle and abusing his players during practices from 2010 through 2012, according to the sports network.

The footage surfaced after Eric Murdock who was Rice's director of player development until he was fired showed it to Rutgers Athletic Department officials. In an interview with ESPN, Murdock says the abuse caused several players to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, you know, firing balls at players from point-blank range, the -- the verbal abuse, the belittling, yes, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired.

BROWN: On ESPN Tuesday, the school's athletic director was asked why he didn't fire Rice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moment that we became aware of the video in November, when it was presented to us by Eric and his lawyers, we immediately commenced an independent investigation into the matter. We talked to everybody in the program. We evaluated the situation, and we suspended Mike in a more significant way than coaches have been suspended in recent memory.

BROWN: Now, as this video goes viral, many calling on him to reconsider and fire Rice. Even Lebron James weighing in on Twitter saying, if my son played for Rutgers or a coach like that, he would have some real explaining to do, and I'm still going to whoop on him afterwards. Come on. Esteemed basketball coaches lose their cool is nothing new. Remember legendary Coach Bobby Knight? He was known for his hot temper and throwing chairs. But it was this video showing him with his hands around a player's neck that led to his dismissal at Indiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, maybe I grabbed him by the shoulder, touched him by the back of the neck. I don't know. I don't remember everything that I've ever done in practice.

BROWN: Now the question looms, will Rice face the same fate as Knight?


BROWN: And many are saying university officials who watched the video last year should also go. CNN's attempts for a comment from Burnetti, Rice and the university were unsuccessful. But of course, it will be interesting to see what happens today. What kind of response we get from them.

BERMAN: And the pressure is going to build. It was building overnight. It will build all day today. Are there any indications that Rutgers may reconsider?

BROWN: You know, right now it appears that university officials are reconsidering the decision to only suspend Rice. In fact, Burnetti appears to be backpedaling in an interview he did on the radio yesterday.

e said look the decision to suspend Rice came from the fact that he was remorseful, he apologized, he acknowledged his wrongdoing. But at this point, you know, this video has gone viral. There's so much outrage from people, I think that the pressure is certainly mounting for more to be done here.

ROMANS: Clearly public relations problem for this program.

BERMAN: I think so. I think it will be a very interesting day at Rutgers today.


BERMAN: This is not over.

ROMANS: All right, thanks, Pamela Brown.

New developments this morning in the case of two murdered prosecutors in Kaufman, Texas, investigators are now looking at a former justice of the peace named Eric Williams, who was fired in a corruption probe, and prosecuted by both men who are now dead.

CNN's George Howell live with us this morning from Kaufman. George, tell us about this person of interest development.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, whether a person of interest or not, still undetermined at this point. What we know, CNN spoke with his attorney and he says that investigators met with his client at a local Denny's to take hand swabs, swab samples, I should say, from his hand, to test for gun residue.

At this point, CNN does not know what the results of those swab samples revealed to investigators. But Surgi says that his client voluntarily cooperated because he, quote, "has nothing to hide." But it's very important to put this into perspective.

Now this person may be one of many people that investigators are talking to. Also, there are many theories out there, the theory about the possibility of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas being involved, the possibility of a drug cartel being involved or was this an inside hit?

We just don't know because at this point, no suspect is in custody. But fair to say, Christine, these investigators have a lot of different angles that they're looking through to get to the bottom of this case.

ROMANS: And as this investigation unfolds you're seeing more security around officials there. You're seeing differences as we move forward here.

HOWELL: Absolutely. And just yesterday, it was quite apparent. We saw investigators walking side by side with public officials. That's something we hadn't really seen in the past few days. But you can tell that they are really taking security seriously.

In fact, we spoke with one district attorney in nearby Anderson County and you get a sense of just how concerned he is to do his job in this environment. Take a listen.


DOUG LOWE, ANDERSON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I feel like Mike was murdered for what he did, so it makes it kind of, you know, it's a little scary to people like me, not going to change the way I do business. I'm not going to walk in fear, I'm not going to not people I can prosecute, but you got to be careful.


HOWELL: Christine, the person that will be filling Mike McLelland's position, Brandi Fernandez will be taking that spot as an interim D.A. for the next 21 days until the governor of the state, Rick Perry, appoints a new district attorney for this county. But again, even she will have round the clock security because, again, public officials are taking these threats seriously.

ROMANS: What's expected the next few days, George?

HOWELL: Right. We know Thursday there will be a public memorial. The Governor Rick Perry will also attend that public memorial in Sunnyvale, Texas and then on Friday, the funeral and burial to follow in Wrotham, Texas -- Christine.

ROMANS: All right, George Howell in Texas. Thank you so much, George.

BERMAN: Tension building between North and South Korea this morning. North Korea making good on its threat to block South Korean workers from entering or leaving a jointly run industrial complex.

This move comes a day after Pyongyang announced it would restart a shuttered nuclear power plant. The north increasingly hostile behavior prompting harsh criticism even threats from the west.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I reiterate again, the United States will do what is necessary to defend ourselves, and defend our allies, Korea, and Japan.

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: If we have solid evidence that North Korea is going to take action then I think we have the moral obligation and the absolute right to defend ourselves by taking -- I wouldn't even consider that pre-emptive. To me that would be stopping an attack that's about to happen.


BERMAN: So this week the United States positioned two warships and a sea-based radar platform near the Korean Peninsula to monitor North Korean military activity.

ROMANS: All right, take a look at this new video, a man in a stolen taxi taking police in South Florida on a wild rush hour ride through two counties. The high speed chase started in Miami where the driver lost control.

Look at that on the Florida turnpike but somehow managed to keep on going after hitting well over 100 miles an hour, then a brief chase on foot, police finally caught the suspect. They say they found marijuana and other drugs on him.

The 33-year-old Lazaro Ricardo Costilan is facing multiple charges including grand theft auto and aggravated assault on a police officer. It's like something out of an episode of Miami Vice. I can't believe he was going that fast and made it through two counties.

BERMAN: It's going that fast. It's flying through there.

ROMANS: All right, new this hour, Nelson Mandela on the mend. Doctors in South Africa said a short time ago that their former president is making steady improvements. Mandela is 94, rushed to the hospital last week with a lung infection.

BERMAN: Louisville's Kevin Ware back on campus this morning after suffering that horrifying compound fracture in his right leg during the nationally televised game on Sunday. The 20-year-old sophomore broke his leg during Sunday's Cardinals victory over Duke where he is expected to be off the court for about a year now.

His team will next face Wichita State in the Final Four. Ware is hoping to join them for the trip, but he needs clearance to travel from team doctors first. So, if you made the mistake of going to sleep last night, you almost missed something absolutely amazing.

The Texas Rangers Yu Darvish retired the first 26 Houston Astros he faced. Now if you're keeping score at home. That put him one out away. One out away from a perfect game, the $170 million star from Japan, he just seemed invincible last night.

He had 14 strikeouts. Need just one more out for that perfect game, and up came little-known Marlin Gonzalez career 234 hitter. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perfect game. Gonzalez, base hit!


BERMAN: Right through the legs, right up the middle. The bid for the perfect game, I think just the 24th of all time broken up there with one out to go in the ninth. They pulled Yu Darvish, brought in the relief pitcher. The good news for the Rangers at least, they did go on to win 7-0.

ROMANS: Berman, your love for baseball knows --

BERMAN: A perfect game in what was the second game for the Rangers of the season. That would have been phenomenal.

ROMANS: A $107 million. That's a pile of money.

BERMAN: It's why you can't go to sleep at night. If you go to sleep at night, you miss things like this.

ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: Stay up and watch. So it may be the last thing you'd expect to hear in the middle of a jailhouse interview.


BERMAN: We're talking about singing, singing. That's Conrad Murray who will be singing. You'll get more from Anderson Cooper's sometimes bizarre exclusive interview with Michael Jackson's former doctor. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Michael Jackson's former Dr. Conrad Murray speaking exclusively to CNN in his very first interview since being convicted in the pop star's death. Murray serving a four-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter, and this is a jailhouse telephone interview with Anderson Cooper.

Murray maintained his innocence and delivered part of his message in song. It was strange, to say the least. CNN's Shannon Travis live in Washington. Shannon, tell us more about this interview. SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, he's not only maintaining his innocence, he says it's time people know, quote, "my story." That he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, as you mentioned, Dr. Conrad Murray giving jailhouse interviews to CNN, his first since being convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Michael Jackson's death in November 2011.

Obviously, the coroner ruled that Jackson died from a lethal combination of sedatives and the anesthetic Propofol. Murray says though he administered those drugs to Jackson, Jackson had already been using Propofol long before. That Murray actually tried to wean him off of it. Murray says his intentions were good. Take a listen, John.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN'S "360": But do you feel any guilt over the death of Michael Jackson?

MURRAY (via telephone): I am an innocent man. I am extremely sorry that Michael has passed on. It's a tremendous loss for me. It's a burden I have been carrying for the longest while and it's a burden I will carry for an indefinite period of time.

I became a sounding board for Michael. He offloaded and regurgitated everything that was bad in his past and everything that was dark. And I have been the absorbent capacity for that.


TRAVIS: In that same refrain, John, Dr. Murray actually called himself a scapegoat for all of the things that Michael Jackson had endured over his life -- John.

BERMAN: There was a lot about this interview that was interesting, Shannon. But there's one thing that a lot of people are talking about this morning and that's that really just bizarre moment when Murray broke out into song.

TRAVIS: Yes, it was bizarre that the doctor treating the King of Pop actually broke out into song himself. He was using this knock by Nat King Cole to actually profess his story as we mentioned earlier.

Take a listen at actually how he delivered it.


MURRAY (singing): He is a little boy that Santa Claus forgot, and goodness knows he did not want a lot. He wrote a note to Santa for some crayons and a toy. It broke his little heart when he found Santa hadn't come in the streets. He envied all those lucky boys --


TRAVIS: John, obviously all of this comes as Murray is actually appealing his conviction -- John. BERMAN: All right, Shannon Travis, our thanks to you.

ROMANS: Is it the song really?

BERMAN: It really just makes you think.

ROMANS: Just odd.

All right, 16 minutes after the hour. Let's get you up to date.

The pressure is growing this morning on Rutgers University to fire men's basketball coach Mike Rice. A stunning video shows Rice shoving, grabbing, and throwing balls at players during practice and using expletives and gay slurs. Rice was fined and suspended back in December for the quote, "inappropriate behavior." Now the school is said to be reviewing its decision to keep him.

BERMAN: An unsealed criminal complaint details an alleged plot to rig the upcoming New York City mayoral race. State Senator Malcolm Smith now out on bond, accused of trying to bribe his way onto the ballot to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The complaint details payments of thousands of dollars in an effort to persuade Republican leaders in New York to put Smith on the Republican ballot in November, even though he was a registered Democrat. Five other New York political figures from both sides of the aisle also charged.

ROMANS: Authorities in West Virginia say 21-year-old MTV reality star Shain Gandee and two others died from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. The "Buckwild" star was found dead Monday along with his uncle and a friend. They were inside a Ford Bronco on a dirt road in Sissonville, West Virginia.

MTV has suspended filming a second season of the show. And that truck was partially submerged in mud.

BERMAN: A small plane turns a busy South Florida highway into a runway. An instructor and a student pilot were reportedly conducting a training exercise when they were forced to make an emergency landing on the median of U.S. 27 in South Broward yesterday. Both men walked away uninjured.

The FAA is investigating. This is the second small plane to make an emergency landing on U.S. 27 in just the last month.

ROMANS: Disney and Pixar reeling in a sequel to "Finding Nemo." Ellen DeGeneres will again be the voice of forgetful Dory in the new film, "Finding Dory". DeGeneres says she's waited a long, long time for the sequel. It's scheduled for release in November 2015.

BERMAN: So, just a day after their West Side story duet made light of their rivalry, Jimmy Fallon may be one step closing to replacing Jay Leno as the host of "The Tonight Show." A source close to the deal tells the "Hollywood Reporter," it is on, insisting Fallon and NBC have reached an agreement.

Now, Leno's contract is good through September of next year. But Hollywood reporter Kim Masters who broke the story told CNN's Piers Morgan she doesn't think they will wait that long.


KIM MASTERS, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Well, I think they want to start him a little bit before then. I don't know if you're Jay Leno at this point, how long do you want the farewell to last? I think if you saw the video last night, Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno together, it seemed to me at the very end Jay Leno was kind of hinting that he's accepting this.


BERMAN: So reports also say the network is eyeing "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers to replace Fallon on "Late Night". I don't officially get a vote here but were it up to me, Seth Meyers would be the choice.

ROMANS: He's very funny.

BERMAN: Very funny.

ROMANS: If you skipped out on the iPhone 5, saying I'll wait for the next model, coming up, we've got the scoop on the next one, including when. It's always a big question with Apple products -- when?


ROMANS: Look at New Jersey.

BERMAN: Yes. Jersey is on the left. What the rest of us are looking at is New York City on the right of the George Washington Bridge there. Sorry, New Jersey. It's been awfully good these days in New York City, the financial capital of the world.

We are minding your business this morning. It could be yet another record day on Wall Street. Stock futures are up.

ROMANS: Right. And any gains today would add to yesterday's record highs set by both the Dow and the S&P 500. Yesterday the big driver, insurance stocks, after the government said it would boost the amount it pays insurers for its Medicare Advantage program. Insurance stocks moving higher yesterday. That was the big driver overall.

OK, so here's what we're watching this morning. New data on the job market could affect trading and we have a jobs report on Friday. So that's going to be really key to watch how any job market data today might help or hurt the market.

The next iPhone could be on the way. "The Wall Street Journal" says Apple will start producing a refreshed iPhone sometime this quarter. That could mean a summer release.

Also, a smaller, less expensive iPhone could be launched this year after apple recently said its profits were squeezed by the popularity of its cheaper, older model iPhones, and some of the blogs reporting they're looking for a different kind of case for this cheaper version. Interesting, right? Experimenting there.

Jay-Z launching a sports agency, and he already landed a pretty big fish. New York Yankee Robinson Cano. Jay-Z, is that how we say his name? Who will represent him under his new sports nation called Roc Nation Sports could mean a big pay day since Cano is expected to bring in nine figures.

Jay-Z was named one of Fortune's 50 business persons of the year last year. He owns an entertainment company, a music label. He's minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, brand Jay-Z raiding high right now. (INAUDIBLE) to sports.

BERMAN: Robby Cano maybe the best second baseman in baseball. He's going to make upwards of $200 million in his next contract. So, Jay- Z's company going to make a pretty commission on that.

ROMANS: It's embarrassing I had to ask you how to pronounce his name. He's worth $200 million.

BERMAN: Besides that, what's the one thing we need to know about our money?

ROMANS: You know, another recovery sign in the housing market, John. People are buying vacation homes. Sales race 10 percent last year because of that the National Association of Realtors says the supply of available second homes in places like Florida, and Arizona, is limited. Vacation home sales up, and vacation home prices up.

I don't know if it just matters to the 1 percent or not. But it certainly, certainly is another sign of a housing market that is stabilizing and recovering.

BERMAN: I was going to say God bless all those people. Whoever they are --

ROMANS: I can't afford my home-home, let alone my home in a different home. That's another story altogether.

BERMAN: Twenty-five minutes after the hour right now. Remember the rare look at a whole different side of the president? Take a look.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (singing): I am so in love with you --


BERMAN: There he is, President Obama channeling Al Green. Now, of course, the president will get a chance to learn from the original. We'll tell you why coming up.

ROMANS: If you happen to be leaving the house right now, you can watch us any time on your desk top or your mobile phone. Just go to

BERMAN: Keep us with you always.

ROMANS: Just not when you're driving.