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Rutgers Coach Under Fire; Police Questioning Man in Texas D.A. Murder Weigh More, Pay More To Fly; New Survey on Conspiracy Theorists; Sports Round Up

Aired April 3, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Out of bounds, and now maybe out of a job. A college hoops coach called out for nasty behavior on the court. All of it caught on camera.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Raw emotion in the Jodi Arias courtroom. What the judge in the murder trial did to reduce one juror to tears.

BERMAN: His life on the run now over. New, this morning, the elusive fugitive known as the "Mountain Man", tracked down, and caught.

ROMANS: Wow. Seven years in the woods.

BERMAN: Seven years on the run.

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

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans, in for Zoraida Sambolin this morning. It's Wednesday. It's April 3rd, and it's 30 minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: And this morning so many people are questioning why Rutgers University let basketball coach Mike Rice keep his job. After that video surfaced that shows him physically and verbally abusing players during practice, even hurling gay slurs. Rice was fined and suspended but he was not fired.

Now, his video has gone viral, fueling -- I think it's fair to say -- coast-to-coast outrage.

ROMANS: CNN's Pamela Brown following all the developments for us.

You know, this university now, Rutgers, under a lot of pressure this morning to explain, you know -- to explain why it had this video, and why it didn't fire this coach.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Officials facing some tough questions -- you're right, Christine. They learned of the allegations last summer and then watched the video several months ago. And now, anger is mounting over why the athletic director, Tim Pernetti, didn't fire Rice.

Let's take a look again at the shocking video. You can see Rice hurling basketballs at players' legs and even their heads, grabbing, pushing, kicking and punching them, and screaming homophobic slurs.

This footage surfaced after Eric Murdock, who was Rice's director of player development until he was fired, showed it to Rutgers athletic department officials. Murdock says Rice's behavior caused several players to leave.


ERIC MURDOCK, FMR. RUTGERS, DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT: And to see your coach physically putting his hands on players, physically kicking players, you know, firing balls at players from point-blank range, the verbal abuse, the belittling -- yes, I was in total shock that this guy wasn't fired immediately on the spot.


BROWN: Instead, Rice was suspended for three games and fined after the video surfaced. At the time, University officials said the move was in response to, quote, "inappropriate behavior by Rice."

But after the video was released to the public yesterday, people are saying the university downplayed Rice's suspension last December. Now, Pernetti is facing a grilling over why he didn't take more action.

Here's what he said on ESPN yesterday.


TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS DIRECTOR OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS: 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: And CNN's attempts to reach out to Rice, Pernetti and the university were unsuccessful. But it will be interesting to see what happens if this decision to suspend Rice will be reconsidered. It appears that that could happen over the fury since this video was released yesterday.

ROMANS: It's not just one bad moment --


ROMANS: -- for this coach. It's several -- is it several practices?

BROWN: It was 30 minutes of video that was actually showed to university officials back in December. Of course, we're just seeing a part of that.

What I think is interesting here, actually, you make a good point Christine, we're hearing from NBA superstars LeBron James, you know, Ray Allen, who are saying, look, this is not commonplace. This is not the way it should be. And they're sounding off on Twitter.

BERMAN: Eric Murdock, who we believe was the man and his attorney who made this video public who was involved with Rutgers basketball, Eric Murdock played in the NBA for nine years. Eric Murdock was a college basketball star before that.

Eric Murdock's been around basketball for a long time, and if he was shocked by what's going on in that practice it's really worth, you know, taking a look at it very, very hard. So, Rutgers has been sitting on this in a way since November.

BROWN: And a lot of people are saying that, you know, the heat shouldn't just be on Rice. It should be also be on Pernetti and the other university officials who saw this video and didn't take more action.

ROMANS: The first thing I thought when I was hearing some of the homophobic slurs in this is Tyler Clementi went to Rutgers. This is a university that had massive soul-searching about how you treat people, about how words matter and words can hurt, and you have a leader at the university saying things like this.

BROWN: Yes, a lot of people are saying it's hypocritical of the university.

BERMAN: This will be a tough day in Rutgers. Worth watching. Pamela Brown, our thanks to you.

ROMANS: All right. New developments this morning in the murder of two district attorneys in Kaufman, Texas. Police are looking at a former justice of the peace who was fired for corruption and prosecuted by the two dead men. Eric Williams says police met with him at a local restaurant and swabbed his hands for signs of gun residue, but Williams insists he doesn't even own a gun and police are not officially calling him a suspect.

Meantime new developments in another deadly shooting involving a prosecutor in Colorado. Police in the small town of Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado, say in intruder was shot to death Monday night inside the home of a deputy district attorney and her sheriff's deputy husband,

CNN's Jim Spellman live in Denver for us this morning. Jim, what's the latest?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The man shot and killed, his name is Joshua Stevens. He's in his early 30s. Authorities tell us he only moved to Hot Sulphur Springs about a week ago, from Michigan, apparently looking for work. Monday night just before midnight, apparently, he showed up at the door of this deputy district attorney, and her sheriff deputy husband, showed up.

There were some sort of altercation at their door, not exactly clear what happened. And then one of these two people, either the deputy D.A. or her husband, shot and killed this man. He was shot in the head, and in the torso.

Unclear exactly what kind of altercation there was. I can tell you, though, I know this town fairly well. It would definitely be unusual for you to have somebody coming to your door at midnight.

And we know that prosecutors, law enforcement officials across the state have been at a heightened state of awareness, and alert, taking extra precaution given the events of the prison head here being killed, and the district attorney in Texas. We hope to find out more about this as the investigation goes on today, Christine.

ROMANS: Jim, what do we know about the suspect? Any connection to the signs? Any explanation for why this happened?

SPELLMAN: No connection at all to -- to the deputy D.A or her deputy husband, and barely any connection to the town. We know he moved here about a week ago from Michigan, apparently looking for work. And he was staying with friends.

We did a quick background search. We found that he had a conviction back in 2007 for fleeing from the police but that was it. That was all we could find.

Very mysterious what he was doing at their house at that night and exactly what led to this altercation, Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Jim Spellman for us in Colorado -- thanks, Jim.

BERMAN: So a key official doing some work for the NRA now says he can get on board with an expansion for background checks for gun sales up to a point anyway.

Asa Hutchinson is a former congressman heading up the NRA's National School Shield Task Force. He says the day will come when teachers are routinely armed in our schools. And while its stance on background checks appears to be softening, it comes with a giant asterisk.


ASA HUTCHINSON, DIRECTOR, NRA "NATIONAL SCHOOL SHIELD" TASK FORCE: I'm open to expanding background checks. You can do it within a way that does not infringe upon an individual and make it hard for an individual to transfer to -- to a friend or a neighbor, somebody that here in Montana and have a casual sale we don't want to infringe upon those rights, either.


BERMAN: So Hutchinson's loophole there for so-called casual gun sales amounts to a rejection of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer's bill that would require universal background checks for all gun sales.

ROMANS: A really frightening scene on a busy Brazilian highway. A passenger bus plunging 30 feet from a viaduct in Rio de Janeiro plunging onto its roof. At least seven people killed, six others injured. Rush hour traffic at a standstill yesterday as the victims were removed from that bus.

A witness told a Brazilian TV station the driver had a dispute with a passenger right before the crash.

BERMAN: Day 40 -- 40 of the Jodi Arias murder trial, and the drama it just keeps on coming. A juror has been thrown off the case, leaving the courthouse in tears, and the judge denying a defense request for a mistrial. Arias' defense had argued the dismissed juror, a female in their 30s, jeopardized the case by gossiping and exhibiting bias in front of other jurors.

ROMANS: "The Mountain Man" is behind bars this morning. Fugitive Troy James Knapp on the run for seven years finally tracked down by law enforcement teams in a remote area of Utah. Authorities say Knapp fired shots at a helicopter that was tracking him, finally gave himself up after he was surrounded.

The suspect is a survivalist. He's accused of breaking into dozens of cabins in southern and central Utah over the last seven years. He faces 18 criminal charges in three Utah counties.

BERMAN: Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will get the chance to win back his old congressional seat as his somewhat improbable return to politics continues. Sanford beat Charleston City councilman Curtis Bostic last night in a Republican runoff. He will go up against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a May 7th special election. She is the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Here's what Sanford told supporters last night.


MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Incredibly humbled, incredibly gratified, incredibly thankful for this night, for what it means at many different levels, and I just want to thank every one of you for your part in making it possible. Thank you very much.


BERMAN: Sanford's career took something of a nose dive after details of an affair were revealed in 2009. Last night a rare public appearance by the woman he had that affair with. Maria Belen Chapur is now his fiancee, right by Sanford's side at the victory rally.

I covered this on and off for a number of years now. I've never actually seen her and Mark Sanford together. So, that seemed like a first last night.

ROMANS: It was during much of the race his sons were often there. But last night you saw the fiancee. The infamous -- after the infamous trip on the Appalachian Trail. What a comeback.

All right. The president and first lady are getting ready to welcome one of their favorite singers to the White House, part of a star- studded concert next week, a tribute to Memphis soul music.


ROMANS: Justin Timberlake will be there, along with Cyndi Lauper. They'll be joined by Sam Moore of "Sam and Dave" and guitarist Steve Cropper and the legendary Al Green. He's seen here performing for a Capital Records concert. Wow that voice.

President Obama, I don't know, he could be under some pressure, John, to step up on the stage.

BERMAN: Oh, I think he has to.

ROMANS: You know, he might be Al Green's number one fan.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT (singing): I so in love with you --


BERMAN: Not bad.

ROMANS: Concert will be recorded and broadcast later this month on PBS.

BERMAN: I think the president is going to have to sing.

ROMANS: You think so?


ROMANS: It's one thing to sing Al Green when he's not there. It's another to do it right next to him. I mean, it might be --

BERMAN: I think he's going to have to step up. Show some guts and pipe at the same time.

All right. Forty minutes after the hour right now. You may not know it, Christine and I are right now controlling your mind through the television set. Now don't laugh. A disturbing number of people actually believe this is true.

ROMANS: All right.

BERMAN: We'll explain, coming up.

ROMANS: Yes, I'm intrigued.

Plus, skinny in the sky. The airline where losing a few pounds could save you a buck or two.


ROMANS: All right. Delighted that Brooke Baldwin with us now with a look at what's happening on "STARTING POINT."

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. All right. Coming up this morning, at the top of the hour, a coach caught on video, hurling basketballs. Have you seen this? At some of his college players, screaming profanities, slurs at them, even shoving, kicking them at points in the video. One of many questions we're asking is, is it time for Rutgers head coach, Mike Rice, to go?

Got some great guests on this morning. We have former NBA basketball player John Amaechi and ESPN investigative reporter John Barr, who's been following the story very, very closely. They'll be up this morning.

And then, Michael Jackson's doctor who was convicted of manslaughter in the King of Pop's death is speaking from his prison cell with Anderson Cooper. It is a bizarre interview. There is singing involved. You have to hear this. We will talk to victim's rights attorney, Gloria Allred, get her reaction to him singing the blues.

And then you know him as one half of ESPN's tough talking, "Mike and Mike in the Morning." Mike Greenberg explains to us why he's written his new fiction novel about relationships between women. So, it's pretty inspirational. A sports dude writing this first person perspective story about three women. But the whole thing, all the proceeds, go to fighting cancer. Don't miss the interview.

BERMAN: So unlikely.

ROMANS: And you were telling me yesterday the back story and I'm not going to give it away. The backstory about what inspired him --


ROMANS: You got to see that. All right. Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thanks, guys.

ROMANS: Cold and windy start for the northeast. For more on that, we get to Jennifer Delgado live in the CNN Weather Center.

Good morning, Jennifer. I'm going to smile and say good morning even though I don't always love the news you're bringing us.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know you don't, but you're going to have sunshine. So, you have to take --

ROMANS: I'll take it.

DELGADO: All right. Exactly. But it is cold outside. But a little bit warmer than it was yesterday. Good for you, New York, you are above freezing, but still some temperatures in the 20s from Buffalo, from Cleveland all the way to Chicago. So what is going to happen today with the numbers? Well, we are going to see our high temperatures climbing a bit more, but they're still running 10 to 15 degrees below average. Look at that, 51 for a high in Washington, D.C, 46 in New York, 44 in Chicago.

Now, we move it ahead to Friday, just so you know, I'm telling you the truth, we are going to see some of that warmer air warming up. Temperatures we're expecting in the 60s for some parts, including Louisville, 63 degrees, 65 in St. Louis, New York 51. Saturday, you're going to see sunshine out there for New York, but rain comes to you on Friday.

So, the other part of what's happening in the northeast, very windy conditions out there. Wind gusts today, 30 to 40 miles per hour, and that means you have a red flag warning in place from Northern Virginia all the way up towards Connecticut. That is very likely to last until 8:00 tonight. Do your firefighters a favor. No burning out there.

Now, rain, showers, and thunderstorms popping up all along the south. We're going to continue to see this today, tomorrow, and through Friday. And you can see a lot of lightning out there. They've been hammered through eastern parts of Texas as well as into Louisiana. Not expecting any severe weather today, but still, some of those storms could become strong. They're going to drop a tremendous amount of rainfall. We're going to look at the possibility of some flooding woes out there. Three to five inches for parts of Louisiana and then for Central Florida, two to four inches.

So, from fire to flooding, those are big weather headlines today. Back over to you guys.

ROMANS: Thanks, Jennifer.

BERMAN: Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right. We could be seeing the start of a new trend in air travel. The more you weigh, the more you pay. Samoa Air, a small regional airline in the South Pacific, is now the world's first airline to charge passengers based on weight. The company's CEO says the fare structure makes sense, because airplanes run by weight, not by seats.

So, you know, if you've got a little kid, maybe they're going to pay a little bit less than a big grown-up.

BERMAN: And your big uncle.

A new survey reveals some surprising information about just how many conspiracy theorists there are among us in the variety of beliefs they hold to be true. Fifteen percent of those surveyed believe secret mind-controlling technology is added to television broadcasts by the government to keep the masses in check. Fourteen percent of you believe the CIA was instrumental in dealing crack cocaine to America's inner cities back in the 1980s. Seven percent believe we never landed on the moon. And finally, 13 percent of registered American voters surveyed think President Obama is the Anti-Christ. Another 13 percent are not sure if he's the anti-Christ.

ROMANS: All right. I always love those. They also -- when you talk about who believes in Sasquatch and all that kind of stuff. There's these percentages --

BERMAN: Fairly 25 percent or so.

ROMANS: Very, very high.

All right. A baseball fans all over the country threw their arms up at the same time when this happened. The moment Yu Darvish lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth. More ahead if you missed it.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Kevin Ware is the Louisville player who suffered that gruesome leg injury during the NCAA tournament games over the weekend; he's now back with his teammates. Now he's hoping to ride the bench, cheering on his team during the Final Four this Saturday.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes is here with today's Bleacher Report. Good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Good morning, guys. Ware's Louisville Cardinals were already the overall favorites to win the tournament. Now they have even more to play for as they try to win the title for their injured teammate.

Now, Ware was released from the hospital yesterday after going through successful surgery to repair the compound fracture in his leg, and he's expected to be out of basketball for an entire year, but that did not stop him from rejoining his teammates as soon as possible. Ware's already back on campus with the Cardinals. And head coach Rick Pitino said he expects Ware to travel with the team to Atlanta for the final four.

Year two for you in the Lone Star State got off to a near perfect start last night. The Rangers' ace was dealing against the Astros retiring the first 26 batters he faced. Yu was just one out away from a perfect game in the ninth. But Astros nine-hole hitter, Marwin Gonzalez, shoots this ball right through Yu's legs. That single ends the perfect game bid for Yu and the night. Just a heartbreaker for the Rangers. They still win the game 7-0 over the Astros.

Shaq was back in L.A. last night to have his number 34 jersey retired by the Lakers. And as these ceremonies usually go, he was celebrated with a video tribute of his feats. The fans went crazy as Shaq delivered his old famous one liners like, "Can you dig it?" They also showed their love for their former head coach Phil Jackson.



SHAQ O'NEAL, FORMER BASKETBALL PLAYER: Coach, I have a confession to make, you gave me a lot of weirdo books to read. I like to thank my good friend, Cliff Notes, for helping me read those books.


SCHOLES: Those "We want Phil" chants had to be offered for their current Lakers' head coach, Mike D'Antoni, when asked about those chants after the game. He said he's only won 58 rings, why wouldn't they?

Finally, are you tired of having to drive around those pesky water hazards while playing golf? Masters champ Bubba Watson has a solution for you -- a hovercraft. This is not an April Fools' joke. This new hovercraft (INAUDIBLE) go anywhere on a golf course leaving relatively no trace behind. You see everything, the Bubba Craft can do head over to

Guys, I don't play golf very often, but if I got to drive around a hovercraft every time I went, I'm pretty sure I'd go just about every weekend.

BERMAN: Yes. I'd be there every day. That's the coolest thing I've ever seen.

ROMANS: That's awesome.

SCHOLES: Awesome.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks, Andy.

ROMANS: OK. We're going to hear from Kevin Ware later today. Did you know that? Ware is going to -- and his mother will speak to CNN's Rachel Nichols this afternoon in Louisville. So, look forward to that. We'll let you know what's going to happen.

BERMAN: "STARTING POINT" is just moments away. We're back after the break.


ROMANS: All right. That's EARLY START for this Wednesday. I'm Christine Romans. "STARTING POINT" with John and Brooke Baldwin starts right now.