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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Break In Texas D.A. Murder Case?; Former Justice Of Peace Arrested In Texas; Kerry To Visit Slain Diplomat's Parents; Search Suspended; Buried By An Avalanche; Florida Police Sergeant Fired; Spectacular Prison Break In France; Girl Survives Fall Down 60-Foot Well; Ann Frank A "Belieber?"; An Aussie Takes Augusta Finally!; Global Singer's Space Journey
Aired April 15, 2013 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. I'm John Berman.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Brooke Baldwin. This morning here, potential break in the murders of these two district attorneys in Texas. A former Justice of the Peace, Eric Williams, was arrested over this weekend after authorities discovered possible ties to the murders of District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, Cynthia, and Assistant D.A. Mark Hasse.
BERMAN: Now Williams has not been named as a suspect, but he was taken into custody on Saturday and he's being held on $3 million bond. Joining us live now from Dallas is Pete Schulte. He is an attorney who handled cases in Kaufman County. Thanks so much for being in this morning.
We should say that Williams has been in custody since Saturday. Police are obviously holding him for some reason. You know, but there are no charges yet. Why the discrepancy there? Why in custody since Saturday? Why no charges?
PETE SCHULTE, ATTORNEY, KAUFMAN COUNTY, TEXAS: Well, I think what's interesting, John, is when they executed the search warrant, you know, on Friday, I think they had every intention of taking Mr. Williams into custody at the end of that search.
But a lot of times, and I'm a former police officer, a lot of times you want to keep the person that, you know, the house that you're searching at the scene in case they say something, in case they make statements, or body language when you're taking stuff out of the house.
So that doesn't surprise me. But what they ended up doing is something has triggered that the judge in the cases from last year, where he was accused of burglary of a building and theft, and taking laptop computer, or monitors from the county courthouse, he was almost called an appeal bot.
Somehow whatever the activity was, there were some alleged threats after e-mail made after the McLelland killings, the judge said, you know what? We're going to revoke your bond and just hold you in jail until we figure out what's going on.
So that's -- so right now, the judge decided that it was best for him to be off the streets. But the charges are probably forthcoming.
BALDWIN: But Pete, he is facing an account of terroristic threats. What does that really mean?
SCHULTE: A terroristic threat is kind of in Texas is kind of the blanket charge for making a threat, a credible threat to somebody but not actually carrying it out. So it's a misdemeanor in most cases. So, you know, the million dollar bond on that will more than likely get reduced at some point, but the other $2 million is $1 million each on what we call insufficient bond.
Those are the appeal bonds that I'm talking about. Those are not going to get reduced because that's the judge's full discretion, and the judge made the determination. So you know, in the terroristic threat, evidently the allegation is that he sent threatening e-mails to county officials after the McLelland shooting and they were able to trace those e-mails back to him. And that's where that came about.
BERMAN: You were talking about bond --
SCHULTE: If he gets charged with capital murder this week -- if he gets charged with capital murder this week that's going to be the charge he's going to have to worry about.
BERMAN: Sorry to interrupt you. You were talking about the bond, $3 million total. That seems like an awful lot of money. Should we be reading into that amount that authorities there are taking him very, very seriously?
SCHULTE: You know, we've actually had a couple other cases where, you know, some people in Kaufman were calling in threats on the tip line. They also got arrested on one misdemeanor count of terroristic threats and had a $1 million bond. Authorities out there are saying we're trying to send a message.
You know, we're not going to take this. You know, you're diverting resources away from this investigation. But in this particular case, $3 million, even to get a bondsman to post that bond, he would have to come up with $300,000 cash to get out of jail. Yes, I think it's very clear that the authorities in Kaufman County want this man in jail until they figure out how all the pieces come together.
BALDWIN: Speaking of the pieces here, I mean, there are a lot of nuggets, according to "Dallas Morning News," they're talking about this storage unit that that this guy apparently had rented. They found like 20 guns inside.
They found surveillance video of him. You know, going to and from the neighborhood the morning of the McLelland killings. There was the Crown Victoria found nearby. What, what is happening now, Pete, just sort of behind the scenes? And given all these details, do you think they're also looking at other people? SCHULTE: Brooke, I very much believe that Mr. Williams, if he's involved in this case, didn't act alone. I mean, I think the two crime scenes from the first assistant D.A., Mark Hasse, who was killed in January, and of course the McLelland scene. They're very different scenes.
One was very cleaned up. The other one a lot of forensic was left. But the most important thing about that Crown Vic that may explain why the McLelland's opened the door that night, in a county like the size of Kaufman it's not uncommon for a police officer go by a D.A.'s house to ask for assistance on a search warrant or arrest warrant.
So that may have been the ruse that was used to get the McLellands to open the door. So I think that's a very important piece of evidence.
BALDWIN: Wow, that's interesting.
BERMAN: It's interesting notion. I hadn't thought of that. Pete Schulte in Dallas for us this morning. Thank you so much for helping shed light in this case.
SCHULTE: Thanks for having me, guys.
BERMAN: This could be a key juncture in that case. It's 35 minutes after the hour right now. John Kerry was making a quick detour on his way home from his Asian trip. The secretary of state will visit Anne Smedinghoff's family today in Chicago. You will remember she was the young Foreign Service officer killed earlier this month in Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: She was trying to deliver books to students in their own language and help them educate themselves to have better opportunities in life she was really doing the best kind of work that so many of our foreign service officers do in the State Department in various parts of the world, full of enthusiasm, full of energy, full of high ideals. And tragically, she lost her life to an IED, to a vehicle IED. And, you know, I think we all honor what -- what she was doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Smedinghoff met Kerry in Afghanistan about two weeks before her death. Five other Americans were also killed in that attack.
BALDWIN: Rescuers in Washington State are hoping to resume their search today for this missing hiker who was buried by this massive avalanche Saturday in the Cascade Mountains. He is 60-year-old Mitch Hungate, who was snowshoeing on Granite Mountain when this avalanche hit. A female hiker was killed by a second avalanche Saturday on nearby Red Mountain.
CNN's Miguel Marquez has more from Los Angeles. Miguel, good morning.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning there, Brooke. As the sun rises out here in the west, it is hoped that the search can resume for Mr. Hungate.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): An agonizing search for a hiker swept away by snow. The clues eerie, a ski pole buried to the hilt. Crews painstakingly searched an area a quarter mile long and eight-feet deep. Rescue dogs digging furiously, the late spring storm creating perfect avalanche conditions catching snowshoers by surprise in two nearly simultaneous avalanches.
CHRIS SOHN, AVALANCHE SURVIVOR: I thought that I'm dying. I thought I'm dying, but I was hardly breathing because the snow continuously covered my body and then my face and then I couldn't see anything.
MARQUEZ: Lucky to be alive, Chris Sohn, was in a group of 12 swept away by a river of snow. The novice snowshoer was buried, unable to move his body under the weight of the snow. He could only wait as his friends dug him out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty scary.
MARQUEZ: All 12 survived but then a dog alerted them to another buried snowshoer nearby. They dug her out of five feet of snow -- alive.
SOHN: After two hours, my members stayed in the mountain. They found her.
MARQUEZ: But with conditions so harsh, the group so remote search and rescue couldn't get her out fast enough. She died before reaching the command center. The same concern for the snowshoer still missing from the first avalanche in seconds, the three men in that group were swept far and fast. A GPS device recorded their harrowing slide.
SGT. KATHLEEN LARSON, KING COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: And they literally went 1,279 feet in that avalanche at speeds of up to 53 miles an hour.
MARQUEZ: None of the men was wearing an avalanche beacon. Two of them managed to save themselves. A hard week for avalanches in Utah, 34-year-old Craig Patterson, a highly experienced avalanche forecaster was killed when he was caught in a small avalanche on a very steep slope. Late heavy snow packed on to icier, older stuff, perfect and unforgiving avalanche conditions.
MARQUEZ: Now, this is the biggest problem that officials there are dealing with, these very heavy spring storms. There is more snow forecast for that area in the Snoqualmie Pass today so it's not clear that they will be able to resume that search.
But at the moment, they are hoping they can. And also at the moment, Mr. Hungate's wife and daughter are waiting at the command center hoping for good news. Back to you guys.
BALDWIN: Thinking of that family this morning. Miguel Marquez, thank you.
BERMAN: New developments this morning surrounding the Florida police sergeant fired for using images of Trayvon Martin for firearms training. This morning, Sergeant Ron King is fighting back, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.
Now these targets, you can look, show a faceless figure in a black hoodie with iced tea and Skittles in his hand, two items that Trayvon Martin was holding when he was killed. The Port Canaveral officer said the targets were to be used as a training tool reflecting a real- life incident.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON KING, FORMER PORT CANAVERAL POLICE OFFICER: The target was something that I viewed as an example of a no-shoot situation. While others viewed it as a novelty, I view it as a tool for scenario-based firearms training.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: King's superior has called the situation unacceptable. He has apologized to Trayvon Martin's family.
BALDWIN: A French gangster makes this spectacular prison break and this morning there is a manhunt now across Europe to try to find this guy. Police in the Northern French city of Lille say Redoine Faid blasted his way out of prison on Saturday.
Yes, big question, how do you get explosives in prison? Faid gained criminal fame hijacking armored trucks. Much more on this story in a live report from France in the next hour here on STARTING POINT.
Bruised, broken, but alive, an 8-year-old South Carolina girl is recovering this morning after she fell down a 60-foot well. Look at this. This is apparently her aunt's house. Relatives, they heard her screaming. They lowered a hose to her so she wouldn't fall any further.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I was scared because I don't know if she was alive.
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: She was talking and she said that she hurting, but it was very dark down there and she was scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: I would be, too. Firefighters came a short time later and rescued this little girl. She was listed in serious, but stable condition with a broken jaw and a fractured skull.
BERMAN: Could have been much, much worse.
It's 41 minutes after the hour right now. Justin Bieber, man, you didn't. During an historic visit -- during a visit to the historic Anne Frank house in Amsterdam where she lid with her family from the Nazis, Justin Bieber wrote this in the guest book.
Again, this is at the Anne Frank house, "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully, she would have been a "Belieber." "Belieber," that is a term used for his rabid fans.
And the comments really have triggered something of a Bieber backlash. One person wrote this, she would have been a what? That little idiot is way too full of himself. She's an important historical figure so show some respect. We should say the museum, by the way, had no problem with Bieber's remarks.
BALDWIN: All kinds of people are tweeting me about this one. He's just young and doesn't know the whole history, the ramifications, everything she went through. Way too insensitive.
BERMAN: Not so sure about that. All right, ahead on STARTING POINT an Australian wins the Masters for the first time ever!
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quite a feeling to make a couple putts to win the tournament. It's what every kid dreams about so it's finally happened, it's amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: Our Rachel Nichols sits down with Adam Scott to talk about his nail-biting win.
BALDWIN: And if you missed our singing earlier, be glad, but I would love to hear her sing. Singer Sarah Brightman is going where no entertainer has gone before, space. She wants to be the first musician up there. She has her new album "Dream Teaser."
We'll talk to her about that here in studio and get an update from her on her trip to the stars. It's 43 minutes past the hour on a Monday. You're watching STARTING POINT.
BALDWIN: Did you see the thrilling, the historic finish at the Masters? I could see you screaming at your television. For the first time ever an Australian put on the famous green jacket.
BERMAN: Adam Scott winning a heart-stopper of a playoff at Augusta National and CNN's Rachel Nichols spoke to him right after his win.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Back in 1996, the 15-year-old Adam Scott skipped school to watch his hero, Greg Norman, at the Masters. But that day, Norman blew a six-stroke lead in a historic collapse.
And Scott sat in front of the television crying. Seventeen years later, Scott finally became the first Australian to win here and he told me how the seed for this victory was planted that day in front of the TV.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM SCOTT, 2013 MASTERS CHAMPION: That was hard to watch, for sure, and know the whole nation stopped that day and felt for Greg. You know, it was-it was just so hard to see your hero not come up with the goods that day, like he normally always did. But I learned lessons out of that day.
And you know, it's an amazing journey. The whole golfing career and I've played a lot of majors, and to finally get one means a lot. I knocked on the door a couple times recently and to get over the hurdle. Hopefully, it's the start of something to come.
NICHOLS: What do you see when you look at this guy?
SCOTT: That's a happy man right there when I look at that. It's quite a feeling to make a couple putts to win a tournament. It's what every kid dreams about. So for it to finally happen is amazing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NICHOLS: Scott said he dreamed of this moment for most of his life. But that having it actually happen exceeded anything he'd imagined because, well, he never has to wake up from this. For CNN, I'm Rachel Nichols, at the Masters.
BERMAN: It really was amazing. Wasn't it?
BALDWIN: It was.
BERMAN: All right, next, Sarah Brightman is an international star, and now she plans to be among the stars literally. I mean it. Not figuratively, literally. The singer joins us live to tell us about her new album and her plans to fly to space. That's when we come back.
BERMANA: International artist Sarah Brightman is the world's best selling soprano with more than 30 million albums sold. Her 11th studio album titled "Dream Chaser," it comes out tomorrow.
BALDWIN: So this new album, this is a reflection of Brightman's lifelong dream to travel into space, specifically on board the International Space Station and she joins us now to talk about "Dream Chaser" and the tour and space. So welcome.
SARAH BRIGHTMAN, INTERNATIONAL SINGER/PERFORMER: Hello. I'm very happy to see you both look amazing. I don't know how you do this every morning.
BERMAN: You're our favorite guest ever. Thank you.
BALDWIN: I'm pretty sure I broke my cassette tape listening to the original phantom recording as a child, so truly it's an honor to have you here. But let's talk about the new album and how the inspiration as a space geek, I'm incredibly appreciative of your interest in space. How did this come about?
BRIGHTMAN: Well, I'm showing my age now, but I grew up through the '60s and of course, you know, witnessed on a small black and white TV screen the first man land on the moon. And for us as children then, it was really inspiring and it helped me to really focus in on what I've done in my career and do very inspiring things. It gave an energy and focus, but since that time, I've gotten cosmonaut training.
BERMAN: Let's talk about that because you are actually really for real going up into space in 2015.
BRIGHTMAN: Hoping to, yes.
BERMAN: I mean, what's the physical training like for you to get ready to go into space?
BRIGHTMAN: It was funnily fully because it's been an amazing journey for me really from start of medicals in Houston and then going to Star City in Russia. And spending time going through psychological tests, physical training, going on the centrifuge up to 8G, all of these things --
BALDWIN: Eight Gs? I couldn't make it past 4 at space camp.
BRIGHTMAN: But it was wonderful because I felt, you know, in many ways through my work as an artist going on tour all the time, you have to create magic and have to really focus and be good at the end of the day and deliver.
And although you're going through uncomfortable situations like jet lag and different temperatures and leading a team of people and I felt there were parallels with this in many ways.
BALDWIN: Do you plan to sing in space?
BRIGHTMAN: I would love to be able to. I've asked lots of astronauts if it's possible and they go, well, we're not really singers, but it is absolutely possible. But from a vanity aspect, it's not that great because the liquid goes upwards so your face is a little puffy.
BERMAN: So your album "Dream Chaser" has a song called "One Day Like This." In it you show celebrations from around the world. I want to take a quick look at the video. What was the inspiration here?
BRIGHTMAN: It was about really thinking in terms of experience and what they're saying in this particular song is that one experience is that one small experience, can actually last you a lifetime and be beautiful for a whole life time.
And I think, you know, in our lives nowadays as human beings, we're very greedy for a lot of experience and sometimes miss those beautiful things. And of course that was taken from the festival of colors and festival of love. And it was filmed both in Utah as well as in India so I just -- everybody's enjoying and loving and feeling. So it was a very inspiring song to do.
BALDWIN: Sarah Brightman, your album is "Dream Chaser." It is inspiring to meet you. Thank you.
BRIGHTMAN: Thank you very much.
BERMAN: And during the break if you can give Brooke Baldwin some tips on sing singing, I'd appreciate it.
Ahead on STARTING POINT, should we be able to patent our genes? This is a serious medical question right now heading to the Supreme Court. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the details, really interesting case here. You're watching STARTING POINT.