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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Rutgers Basketball Coach Suspended for Player Abuse; Manhunt Continues for Killer of Texas County D.A.; Conrad Murray Speaks, and Sings, to Anderson Cooper; Ware Back in Kentucky; Third Attempted DA Shooting in Colorado

Aired April 3, 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: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Big, big news day this morning beginning with some video here. Our STARTING POINT here -- shoving, slurs, basketballs hurled at these players' heads. Look at this. This morning, at Rutgers University, the head coach Mike Rice's behavior, all of it caught on camera.

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BALDWIN: This morning, new details on the tape and the coach's future.

BERMAN: Unbelievable. And, new this morning, police look into a possible suspect in the death of a Texas district attorney and his wife. They're actually calling it a person of interest. How a local official might be connected.

BALDWIN: Also, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson is not only speaking from prison, he's singing.

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CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN (SINGING) He's a little boy that Santa Claus forgot and goodness knows he did not want --

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BALDWIN: Yes, singing to Anderson Cooper in this prison interview. You will hear this. You almost have to see it to believe it.

BERMAN: And almost perfect. One of those oh so close moments, an unbelievable near miss in baseball. Well, you will be sorry you went to sleep at all.

It is Wednesday, April 3rd. STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC) BERMAN: And our STARTING POINT this morning is outrage over that video showing Rutgers University basketball coach Mike Rice physically and verbally abusing players at practice. He's seen grabbing, shoving, even kicking players. He's hurling basketballs at them from point-blank range, including really at their heads. He's shouting obscenities, including gay slurs.

BALDWIN: Here's the thing, this coach was suspended for three games after the school's athletic director looked at this tape. This was last fall. Coach wasn't fired, suspended three games. Now flash forward four months, Rutgers is reconsidering that decision and CNN's Pamela Brown is following these developments for us. The video tells the story here.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No matter how many times you see that story it makes you shake your head in absolute shock. 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 for his players.

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BROWN: 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.

ERIC MURDOCK, FORMER RUTGERS DIRECTOR OF PLAYER DEVELOPMENT: 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: On ESPN Tuesday, the school's athletic director was asked why he didn't fire Rice.

TIM PERNETTI, RUTGERS DIRECTOR OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETES: 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.

BOBBY KNIGHT, FORMER BASKETBALL COACH: 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?

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BROWN: And many are saying Pernetti and other university officials who watched the video last year should also go. CNN's attempts for a comment from Pernetti, Rice, and the university were unsuccessful. We should see what happens today. So still a developing story.

BALDWIN: We want to talk, we have a number of guests booked today on but just briefly here on this story, who can forget what happened with Tyler Clemente, it's so sensitive, this issue, and then to have this, you know, caught on camera, using many words we can't even use on television. It's pretty horrendous.

BROWN: Yes.

BALDWIN: That's from what we've seen so far.

We have a number of guests. We'll talk to John Amaechi, a former NBA player, "New York Times" best-selling author, also the former first NBA player to publicly admit being gay, just returned from a conference on sporting integrity of all things and ethics where he talked about the impact of coaches.

So, John, good morning to you, and you've seen the tape. You've been around basketball many years. How common is this kind of coaching behavior? I mean is this the kind of thing where this, this particular coach was just caught?

JOHN AMAECHI, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I think that the problem we have here is that we fool ourselves as a society into outrage about things like this, because he -- Mike Rice really is extreme. But the reality is, he's not rare. He's just rarely exposed.

He's rarely caught on tape. He's rarely brought to the attention and sanctions that we think people behaving like that should. The problem we really have in sports is not shocking homophobic language. Welcome to the language of sports. Any person, I would say from 8 years up, any person understands the language, humiliation of sports, is to align people who have not done well, or are not doing what the coach wants them to do, with either being, if they're men, like women, if they're women, like gay women, or if they're men, even worse than being like women, being like gay people. So there's nothing new to that. What I think is stark here is how we can be surprised, at this point, by this, when this is going on, you can walk on any sideline almost anywhere in America or Britain, on any given weekend, and see similar -- similar behaviors, or at least the vestigial beginnings of this type of manifest behavior.

BERMAN: John, still, all of us who have been on sports teams have had tough talking coaches before. This is sort of the extreme edge of that. There are a lot of players, pro players, who seem shocked by what Mike Rice has been saying. Let me read you some of the tweets we have from some of the NBA pros. Stephen Curry says "Man, how was that Rutgers coach not fired already? If my son was on that team I'd be on the first thing smoking to his soon to be vacant office." "I would have snapped from the coach at Rutgers, I would sit before I'd take some abuse from that man." A lot of players saying that sure, I'm sure they've heard bad things, but this really does seem extreme.

AMAECHI: It is extreme but the thing that people need to understand is there's research that came out just this last year actually that talks about young people's experience in sports, and that 75 percent of young people in sport experience psychologically harmful behavior.

Now, I'm not suggesting that in sport you shouldn't have to take adversity. I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't have to take criticism or that you shouldn't have to deal with difficult times or even occasionally a coach that loses his mind just for one second.

But what I'm talking about is a systematic -- we've got the systematic ideal in sport where sport is not subject to the rules of the rest of society. I often tell parents who are watching their son or daughter be abused on a sideline verbally, usually, hopefully, if that was a French teacher, if that was a math teacher in your kid's school, would you allow that kind of behavior?

BALDWIN: No, never. So should he be fired?

AMAECHI: Oh, it's character building.

BALDWIN: We know he was suspended --

AMAECHI: Exactly, exactly right.

BALDWIN: Should he be fired?

AMAECHI: He should be fired. There is no context in the universe where that kind of behavior is acceptable. It's physical and verbal abuse. It's psychological and emotional abuse. No, he should not be allowed near anybody -- I mean, forget sports. There is no context where his management style is appropriate.

BALDWIN: John Amaechi, we appreciate it. Strong words from you this morning. Former NBA basketball player, thank you.

BERMAN: Yes, thanks so much, John.

It's eight minutes after the hour. New developments this morning in the case of two murdered prosecutors in Kaufman, Texas. Investigators looking at former justice of the peace named Eric Williams who was fired in a corruption probe. CNN's George Howell live from Kaufman. George, what's the latest on this?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. CNN spoke to David Sturgi, Williams' attorney, and we learned that investigators met with Williams at a local Denny's here to take swab samples from his hand to test for gun residue. CNN does not know what the result of those swab samples revealed to investigators but his lawyer says his client did voluntarily cooperate because he, quote, "has nothing to hide."

It's very important note to put all of this in perspective. This person, Williams, could be one of many other people that investigators are talking to and there are many theories out there. For instance the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. There's that possibility that they're looking into. Also, the possibility of a drug cartel being involved. Or was this an inside hit? We just don't know. In many ways investigators are chasing the shadows of all the cases that these two men that Hasse and McLelland have prosecuted to try to figure out if any could be connected to this murder case.

BALDWIN: George, what are the sort of differences you are seeing as this investigation moves on?

HOWELL: Brooke, just the other day, and this was very apparent but you could tell that public officials, they're being flanked by law enforcement officers when they go in to and exit the courthouse. It's an example of the stepped-up security out here. No one is taking, you know, security for granted at this point. They're taking it very seriously.

And you know we spoke to a district attorney from nearby Anderson County the other day. You get a sense of just how concerned he is to do his job in this environment. Take a listen.

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

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HOWELL: So the person that's taking over Mike McLelland's position here, Brandi Fernandez. She will be acting as interim D.A. for the next 21 days until Governor Rick Perry appoints a new district attorney for this county. But even she will have -- has 24-hour security given the environment out here.

BERMAN: George Howell in Kaufman, Texas, thanks to you this morning.

BALDWIN: And new information this morning about the parolee who allegedly killed Denver's prison chief and a pizza delivery man. Evan Ebel apparently ditched his electronic monitoring device a mere five days before those murders. Police showed up at his house hours after corrections director Tom Clements was murdered. Ebel was released from prison by mistake in late January after serving eight years. He was killed in a shootout with police two weeks ago.

BERMAN: Let's now go to Christine Romans with the rest of the day's headlines.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good Wednesday morning to both of you. New developments in the saber rattling conflicts between North and South Korea this morning. North Korea making good on its threat this morning to block South Korean workers from entering or leaving a jointly run industrial complex. The move comes a day after Pyongyang announced it would restart a shuttered nuclear power plant. The North's increasingly hostile behavior and language prompting harsh criticism and even threats from the west.

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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. PETE KING, (R) NEW YORK: If we have solid evidence that North Korea's 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 preemptive. To me that would be stopping an attack that's about to happen.

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ROMANS: This week the United States positioned two warships and a sea-based radar platform near the Korean peninsula to monitor North Korean military activity.

New this morning former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is officially the Republican nominee for congress. Sanford beat Charleston City Councilman Curtis Bostic last night in a Republican runoff. He celebrated the victory with his fiance. The first time he's been seen with her, and, together in public he'll take on the democrat Elizabeth Colbert Bush in the May 7th special election. Here's what he said to supporters last night.

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MARK SANFORD, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I'm 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.

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ROMANS: Sanford admitted he was having an affair in 2009, and divorced his wife jenny in 2010. He's now engaged to the woman who he was having the affair with. OK, only on CNN the NRA's Asa Hutchinson telling our Wolf Blitzer the expansion of background checks for gun sales is on the table. Hutchinson is a former congressman who's heading up the NRA's national school shield task force. While his new position on background checks appears to be softening, it comes with one significant caveat.

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ASA HUTCHISON, 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 a friend or a neighbor, somebody that if you're in Montana and have a casual sale. We don't want to infringe upon those rights, either.

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ROMANS: Hutchinson's loophole 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.

Near perfection in Texas. The rangers' Yu Darvish retired the first 26 Houston Astros he faced last night. Not a bad way to kick off his second season in the lone star state -- $170 million. That's what he's got a Japanese star has 14 strikeouts, overpowering, needing just one more out for a perfect game. Then up came little-known Marwin Gonzalez a career .234 hitter.

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ROMANS: Wish you could see Berman's face. A clean single breaks up the bid for immortality and ends the right-hander's night. The Rangers go on to win 7-0.

BERMAN: We need to revel in this for a moment. He was one out away from being --

ROMANS: Educate us Berman.

BERMAN: From being just the 24th pitcher ever in baseball history, 24th pitcher to throw a perfect game. He was one out away and broken up by a guy you know who is a .234 hitter who normally can't hit the ball out of the infield, next to a nobody.

BALDWIN: Alas.

BERMAN: The perfect game would not be for Yu Darvish. This does happen from time to time. It happened to Mike Mussina against the Red Sox back in 2001. He was one out away. And then there was that pitcher Armando Galarraga a couple years ago --

BALDWIN: Who could forget. BERMAN: One strike away, actually one botched umpire call away from a perfect game.

BALDWIN: The season is young, Berman.

BERMAN: Young? It's two days old. Already exciting.

ROMAN: The crack of the bat has Berman just -- he's a new man. He is a new man.

BERMAN: Spring has sprung.

BALDWIN: Our baseball beat reporter. Thank you, Christine. And you.

Another incredible story we're following, this exclusive and unusual interview by Michael Jackson's former doctor Conrad Murray to our own Anderson Cooper.

BERMAN: Murray was speaking and also singing in this jailhouse telephone interview. CNN's Shannon Travis is following this just odd story Shannon.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is odd. He said it's time people know, quote, "my story" that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously the coroner ruled that Jackson died from a lethal combination of sedatives and the anesthetic propofol. Murray told Anderson Cooper that he did administer those drugs to Jackson, Jackson had already long been using propofol long before and that Murray actually tried to wean him off. But Murray says you just don't tell the king of pop what to do.

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CONRAD MURRAY, FMR. DOCTOR TO MICHAEL JACKSON: I did order propofol to his home. But I was not the one that brought propofol into his home. I did not agree with Michael. But Michael said it was not an issue because he had been exposed to it for years, and that was how things work. And given the situation at the time, it was my approach to try to get him off of it. But Michael Jackson was not the kind of person who could just say, put it down and he's going to do that.

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TRAVIS: Murray also told CNN he feels he's the scapegoat for all of the mishaps that Michael Jackson experienced in his life. Also there was a bizarre moment where the doctor serenaded our Anderson Cooper over his innocence. Cooper had asked Murray if he'd testify in the current wrongful death lawsuit that Jackson's children and mother filed against concert promoter AEG Live. The family claims AEG was negligent in hiring Murray. Well Murray told Anderson, he will testify, and then he broke out in into this Nat King Cole song, "The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot."

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MURRAY (singing): He's the 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 --

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TRAVIS: Murray said he sang the song because both he and Jackson both experienced pain in their lives. John?

BERMAN: Shannon you can see the look on Anderson's face there. It's the same look that's been on our face all morning. Pretty bizarre.

BALDWIN: Confusion, perplexed.

BERMAN: What's going on there? Shannon Travis our thanks to you.

BALDWIN: Hmm.

ROMANS: -- like he is the victim of all of this. Or he is the one who's been left behind in all of this and I mean it's really remarkable.

BALDWIN: I think it's amazing he talked. He talked.

BERMAN: It always is interesting to hear someone from behind bars what their thoughts are about the crime they've been convicted of.

BALDWIN: Yep.

BERMAN: Especially when there's a civil trial going on here.

BALDWIN: Looking ahead at this trial, yep.

BERMAN: The circus continues here.

BALDWIN: It does. It does. And ahead on STARTING POINT, Kentucky's hero returns home. We're live on Louisville campus where Kevin Ware with his crutches there just returned after his gruesome injury against Duke. Will he be able to join his team for the final four in Atlanta? You're watching STARTING POINT. 18 minutes past the hour.

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BERMAN: After suffering that gruesome, gruesome leg injury on national television, Louisville's Kevin Ware is back on campus, in Kentucky, this morning.

BALDWIN: And so is CNN's Joe Carter, in Louisville, with more on this one. So Joe, obviously the big question, I know, I know Kevin Ware wants to go to Atlanta. I mean, imagining he would want to be with his team when they play on Saturday. Do we think he'll actually make the trek?

JOE CARTER, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Brooke, it's up to doctors. We're hoping to get some definitive answers about 1:30 eastern time today. Both Rick Pitino the coach, as well as Kevin Ware are going to hold a press conference in the basketball facility behind me. It's unbelievable that just two days after doctors put a rod in this kid's leg that he was able to walk here on campus on crutches enter this basketball facility. Mom by his side holding the championship trophy that the team won after they beat Duke on Sunday.

He was in really good spirits. He spent about three hours with the team at practice yesterday. We saw him leave in a van about 6:00 eastern time. His mom gave us two big thumbs' up. Him and his girlfriend gave us a big wave and a big smile. There was a handful of fans here just to wish him well to see how he was doing. They were really encouraged by his positive spirit. One fan told us that she believed that this unfortunate situation is just the kind of motivation this team needs to win a national championship.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this right here is making them push even harder to bring the championship home. I mean if we -- we're a great team regardless anyway I'm proud of them. But this is the year and this happening I think has just pushed them more to, to bring it home.

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CARTER: A lot of questions surrounding who's going to pick up these medical costs. Obviously Kevin spending a couple days in Indianapolis hospital. He's going to have about 12 months worth of rehabilitation that he's going to have to go through. University president at Louisville saying they're going to pick up every cent of his medical care which obviously is a big weight off the Ware famil's shoulders. Guys?

BERMAN: All right, Joe Carter in Louisville. Our thanks to you. Later today, Kevin Ware and his mother are going to sit down with CNN's Rachel Nichols in Louisville for an interview. That should be really interesting.

BALDWIN: I liked the picture of mom carrying the big trophy walking behind him.

Coming up, Hillary Rodham Clinton her very first public appearance since leaving office. Raise those eyebrows now. What she said and why the speculation she may run for president once again at fever pitch.

BERMAN: Plus, is a new iPhone, a new iPhone on the way to save me from the congealed coke and cheese on mine? Reports say we could get the new gadget by the summer. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: Ahead on STARTING POINT, she's back! Hillary Clinton returning to the spotlight for the first time since she left the state department, and of course, she is sparking big-time 2016 buzz.

BALDWIN: And then we see the police chase, how often do you see a police chase involving a stolen cab? We have it here going at speeds more than 100 miles an hour. We will show you what happened when police finally catch the suspect. STARTING POINT back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.

BALDWIN: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: This time the DA who survived, did survive the confrontation. Police in the small town of Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado, say an 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 with the latest.