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FBI Focus On Tsarnaev Brothers' Inner Circle; North Korea Sentences American

Aired May 2, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): What does the widow now? Investigators revealing that the wife of Boston bombing suspect talked to her husband while he was on the run.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Questions around the shooting death of a little girl at the hands of her five-year-old brother with a gun given to him as a birthday gift.

SAMBOLIN: And tensions on the rise after an American citizen is sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. Happy you are with us this morning. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, May 2nd, 30 minutes after the hour. A lot going on this morning. We're going to start with the scope of the Boston bombing investigation. It is clearly growing this morning, but new questions about the people in the Tsarnaev Brothers' inner circle. Sources telling CNN that the wife, now widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and identified him as a Boston terror suspect.

That's right. After the pictures were released and the timeline is important here. Plus, three friends of surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now charged with trying to cover up for him. Pamela Brown is in Boston to breakdown these latest developments. And Pamela, first off, what do we know about the three new suspects and what exactly do authorities say they did?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it's what these three friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did after the Boston marathon bombing that has them in hot water facing from up five to eight years in prison. Authorities say that two of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's classmates at UMass Dartmouth are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and a third classmate of Tsarnaev is charged with lying to investigators.

According to the criminal complaint, when the three men saw video of the bombing suspects, they thought one of the men looked like their friend Dzhokhar. In a text message, one friend says, you look like the Boston marathon suspect. And in response, Dzhokhar allegedly said, "LOL." Later he texted, "I'm about to leave. If you need anything in my room, take it" in Dzhokhar's dorm room. Three found fireworks in a backpack with black powder emptied out, Vaseline, and a laptop which two of them later threw away, according to authorities.

Authorities also say the other friend initially denied he knew anything about it. The attorney for one of the suspects says his client was actually helping authorities not obstructing the investigation. Let's take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is just as shocked and horrified by the violence in Boston that took place as the rest of the community is. He did not know that this individual was involved in a bombing.


BROWN: And yesterday, at their initial appearances, all three of them waived bail. They remain in voluntary detention until their next hearing -- John.

BERMAN: Pamela, you mentioned the timing of what these three men did or didn't do. The timing also an issue, apparently, with a phone conversation between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife. That happened right during that mercury period. Any idea what they? discussed

BROWN: We have learned from sources, John, that Tamerlan's now widow, Katherine Russell, spoke to her husband after the release of his picture on April 18th. At this point, we don't know the nature of that conversation, but the concern, of course, and what investigators are looking into is, you know, if she knew that this was her husband, the suspect for the Boston marathon bombing, why didn't she alert authorities? So, she is certainly still a big focus of this investigation -- John.

BERMAN: Again, important that conversation after it happened after those photos of him and his brother were released. Pamela Brown, thanks so much for being with us this morning. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour. New this morning, North Korea ratcheting up tensions with the United States, sentencing an American citizen, Kenneth Bae (ph), to 15 years of hard labor. The tour guide from Washington State is accused of carrying out serious crimes against North Korea. But no word on exactly what crime he committed.

Senior international correspondent, Dan Rivers, is live in Seoul. And Dan, what do we know about the case against Kenneth Bae?

DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we really know very little about what he is alleged to have done. A few snippets from the official news agency in North Korea talking about hostile acts towards the regime saying his crimes were (INAUDIBLE) evident. But we don't actually know what those crimes were.

Now, one of his friends in South Korea has speculated that, perhaps, he was taking photos of something as innocuous as orphans begging on the streets and that may have been misinterpreted by the authorities as something he was going to use against the regime when he went back into China.

He's been in and out of North Korea a lot. He runs tours here. Never had any problem before. Now, suddenly, he's facing 15 years hard labor in a North Korean prison. It's not something you want to be doing.

SAMBOLIN: No, absolutely not. We've seen that before, actually. And what action is the United States taking in order to get Bae out?

RIVERS: Well, there's not -- no sort of official word as what they're doing. This is all likely to be done on back channels here. We understand that Bill Richardson, the former new governor -- New Mexico governor may be involved with trying to get him out. He was in North Korea in January.

There were reports that he handed over a letter petitioning for Kenneth Bae's release. But, there's a lot of speculation here that we may get a really high profile visitor going in as has been done in the past, you remember the case of the two journalists in 2009.


RIVERS: Bill Clinton went in to get them out. There was another case in 2010, Jimmy Carter went in. It may be the North Koreans are going to use this as a bargaining chip to get someone really high profile to go in to North Korea to talk for them.

SAMBOLIN: Right. A little bit of leverage to get that dialogue started. Dan Rivers live in Seoul for us, thank you very much.

BERMAN: Thirty-five minutes after the hour right now, and a story that will just break your heart this morning. A two-year-old girl is dead in Southern Kentucky accidentally shot and killed by her five- year-old brother with a rifle that he received for his birthday. State police have ruled it an accident. CNN affiliate, WLEX, reports the children's mother was cleaning and had just stepped out of the house when she heard the gun go off.


LINDA RIDDLE, CAROLINE'S GRANDMOTHER: He just picked it up before he realized --

DAVID MANN, CAROLINE'S UNCLE: It's a tragic accident. It's tragic. It's something that you can't prepare for.

RIDDLE: I know she's in heaven right now, and I know she's in good hands with the Lord.


BERMAN: The family says (ph) the gun was kept in what they considered to be a safe spot. State police say the children in the area are often introduced to guns at an early age. SAMBOLIN: Oh, my goodness.

Thirty-six minutes past the hour. An autopsy today for rapper, Chris Kelly (ph), half of the 1990's rap duo, Crisscross. The 34-year-old Kelly died Wednesday in Atlanta hospital after he was found unresponsive in his home. Known to all of his fans as Mac Daddy, Kelly was 13 years old when he and partner, Chris Smith, were discovered in an Atlanta mall by producer, Jermaine Dupree.

The duo known for wearing their clothes backwards scored a big hit. You know this one, right? "Jump." 1992 and opened for Michael Jackson on his Dangerous tour as well.

Speaking of Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson's wrongful death trial resumes in just a few hours in Los Angeles. In court yesterday, a police detective testified that Dr. Conrad Murray was in desperate financial straits at the time of the pop star's death, suggesting he may have been motivated by money concerns. Murray administered the fatal propofol overdose in 2009 and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's death.

SAMBOLIN: A Saudi Arabian diplomat living in an upscale home in a Washington, D.C., suburb is the focus of a human trafficking investigation this morning. Federal officials say they removed two Filipino women from his home in McLean, Virginia. They claim the women were being mistreated. They are not naming the diplomat, however.

BERMAN: New information this morning showing the number of young unmarried mothers in this country is on the rise. According to the census bureau, more than 60 percent of new mothers in their early 20es are single. That's up a whopping 36 percent since 2005.

The census bureau report shows wide variations of unwed mothers by income, race and location. The states with the most unwed mothers under 25, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

SAMBOLIN: It's a big why in there, right?

BERMAN: Sure there are a lot of reasons.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Up next, the devastating final moments as a cargo plane in Afghanistan falls out of the sky.

BERMAN: Oh, my goodness.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. It's really incredible video. It killed seven Americans onboard. How did it happen? We have a full report.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 41 minutes past the hour. An investigation is under way to determine the cause of a cargo plane crash in Afghanistan on Monday. It killed seven Americans. The crash appears to have been recorded by a dashboard camera, although, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video. And I want to give you a warning here that some of the video you're about to see is rather disturbing. Here's Chris Lawrence.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The video is traumatic and disturbing. A Boeing 747 just stalls and falls back to Earth in a massive explosion just seconds after takeoff. The video purportedly shows a cargo plane that crashed Monday near Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, killing seven American crewmen including, Brian Hassler (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could trade places with him so that he could be with his family, I would in a heartbeat.

LAWRENCE: That's Hassler's brother who says Brad got married just two weeks ago and his wife is pregnant with their second child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is his daughter, Sloan, who's 2 and who we don't see in here is the baby that's on the way who we expect to see in October.

LAWRENCE: The 747 was bound for Dubai, carrying equipment as part of the U.S. military's drawdown from Afghanistan. The civilian cargo plane was loaded with five emrats (ph), each weighing about 27,000 pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Securing them is absolutely critical to safety.

LAWRENCE: Stephen Wallace (ph) is the former director of the FAA's accident investigation unit. He says there's no forgiveness in a plane's center of gravity.

(on-camera) Basically, there can only be so much weight in each part of the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, it's critical that the total weight be within the limit and that the plane be balanced.

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The 747 can take off a couple different ways. When it's carrying passengers, it will take four to five minutes to reach 15,000 feet. But in Afghanistan, there's always the danger of being shot out of the sky, so the pilots need to gain as much altitude as possible while they're still over Bagram. A 747 carrying cargo can reach altitude almost two minutes faster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The typical concern with a cargo aircraft and this caused accidents before is that when the airplane is rotated with the nose up, the cargo moves aft if it's not properly secured.

LAWRENCE (on-camera): It's much harder to have a massive shift of weight on a commercial 747 because the passengers and the weight are evenly distributed in the seats. It's just one of the possibilities that the NTSB is looking at as their investigators arrive in Afghanistan.

Chris Lawrence, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: And our thanks to Chris for that story.

Going up today, construction crews in New York City will raise the final section of the Spire to the top of one World Trade Center also known as --

SAMBOLIN: How would you like to ride with that, huh?

BERMAN: That's pretty high up there.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, it is.

BERMAN: The Spire was supposed to go up Monday, but bad weather postponed it. When the work is all done, one World Trade Center will stand at 1,776 feet, making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the third tallest building in the entire world.

SAMBOLIN: That is a live picture for you this morning. That is very cool. And at the end of the day, it's just going to be gorgeous. Beacon at the top.

BERMAN: Weather looks fine today, shall we say.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Today it should happen.

And coming up, former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, has a message for Hillary Clinton about a possible presidential run in 2016. You're going to hear his advice coming up next.

BERMAN: And if you're leaving the house right now, do not fret. You can watch us any time on your desktop or mobile phone. Just go to


BERMAN: It is 48 minutes after the hour. Let's bring you up to date.


BERMAN (voice-over): Three friends of surviving Boston bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are now considered suspects themselves. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azmat Tazhayakov are now charged with trying to discard evidence. The third suspect, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements. One of Robel's friends finds this arrest hard to believe.


JAMES TURNEY, ROBEL PHILIPOS' FRIEND: Robel's very good to himself. He went to school. Never got in trouble. Took care of his mom. Plays basketball. Quiet kid. That's about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: Sources also tell CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and identified him as a terror suspect. That raises a lot of question.

SAMBOLIN (voice-over): And closing arguments in the Jodi Arias murder trial this morning in Phoenix. We understand the prosecution and defense are expected to take four to five hours each so they could spill over into tomorrow. The judge will then instruct jurors before deliberations begin. Arias is accused of killing her boyfriend, Travis Alexander, back in 2008, and she insists she was acting in self-defense.

BERMAN: Former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, is giving Hillary Clinton a reason to consider a presidential run in 2016. At an awards dinner last night in Washington, Kissinger pointed out that secretaries of state have a good track record when it comes to winning presidential elections. Six of them, he says, have gone on to become commander in chief.


HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I want to tell Hillary when she misses the office, she looks at the history of secretary of state, there might be hope for a fulfilling life afterwards.



BERMAN: -- that Henry Kissinger. He presented Hillary Clinton with the Atlantic Council's Distinguished Leadership Award last night.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): I did not know this next story like the city they call home.

BERMAN (on-camera): Oh, i knew it.

SAMBOLIN: -- are proving they are Boston strong. I am so excited. They could be on the verge of making history here. After defeating the New York Knicks 92-86 last night in game five of the best of their seven series. Kevin Garnett leading the way with 16 points, 18 rebounds. The Celtics trailing three games to two, looking to become the first team in the NBA history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a play-off series.

BERMAN: We can do it.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, you can. In other games last night, the Indiana Pacers opened a 3-2 series lead with a 106-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. And the Houston Rockets staying alive with a 107-100 win over Oklahoma City. The Thunder now lead that series three games to two.

BERMAN: Basketball news, love it. Also, the Bruins won last night. So, it was a great night for Boston -- Fifty-one minutes after the hour. Happening right now, winter weather shoving aside spring in the nation's midsection. Cold temperatures and what could be historic snowfall is expected in Minnesota, Kansas, and even parts of Oklahoma. What is going on here? Jennifer Delgado with us from Atlanta to explain it all. Hey, Jennifer.

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Hi, guys. A big old late winter mess is what it is. Yes, it's spring, but, it certainly feels more like winter out there. Now, we still have a lot of advisories out there. Winter weather advisories as well as winter storm warnings. Anywhere you're seeing in pink up towards areas like Wisconsin as well as in the Minnesota, six to 12 inches of snowfall, four to seven in some parts.

Des Moines, you could see two to five inches of snowfall. So, what is going on? Well, it's the jet stream that brought all that cold air in place even as far south as parts of Texas. I'll show you on the radar, Mason City as well as Omaha, you can see where the snow is, the freeze line, again, thunderstorms down towards the south will continue to see this pattern today and even through tomorrow.

And you can see in extend for Wisconsin, as I said, all the way down towards Texas, and they're dealing with a little bit of light snow. Now, as we go through today and tomorrow, you can see where the heaviest snowfall is going to be anywhere to the north. Again, I think Jim Spellman is tracking the snow right now through parts of Minnesota.

And then, the snow tries to work into Kansas City, even parts of Oklahoma late tonight. Now, it's not just snow. We're also talking about some very heavy rainfall right along the Northern Gulf Coast, including parts of Florida. We've seen in some parts, get this, six to 15 inches of rainfall just since Wednesday morning.

And that's why we have all these flood warnings and watches in place through Saturday. The rain is going to keep going. It is going to be a mess down there. We're going to have the national forecast coming up shortly, an update on the fire danger out west.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thank you, Jennifer.

Listen to this next story, it's kind of crazy. Still ahead, we've all heard of parents naming their kids really strange names, right? Now, one country banning the weirdest of the weird. The names being rejected. How about Lucifer Berman?

BERMAN: I like the --


BERMAN: It's a family name.


BERMAN: I'll go with Lucifer (ph).

SAMBOLIN: We'll have that for you coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Fifty-six minutes past the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. And trending online this morning, authorities in New Zealand releasing a list of baby names that the country has actually banned. So, check out some of the crazy rejected names parents have, somehow, wanted to name their children.

The list of 77 includes at the top, Lucifer, Mafia, No Fear, 4 Real like the number four and real, and the most popular banned name, Justice. Can you believe that?

BERMAN: Justice and Lucifer.

SAMBOLIN: Justice doesn't make much sense to me. But Lucifer, yes, I can understand it. So, just as bizarre, some names that did not make it, Big Knight Chardonnay.

BERMAN: So, that's allowed. You can name your kid Midnight Chardonnay but not Justice.

SAMBOLIN: Let's do the cracks. Number 16, bus shelter, seriously, folks. And for twins, Benson and Hedges. How about that?

BERMAN: Didn't go with that.

All right. Fifty-seven minutes after the hour right now. Joe Biden's travel troubles and Mitt Romney's commencement advice and Martha Stewart on the prowl.


BERMAN: -- late night laughs.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Well, this is kind of fun. You hear about this? Martha Stewart told Matt Lauer on the "Today" show she's looking for a man on


LENO: She says she's looking for a guy because she has not been in a relationship for five years. And she did say if she can't find a guy, she'll make one out of (INAUDIBLE), a ripe banana and two walnuts.


JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": She says she's a fan of the symphony, opera and rap. I like that. She spent three months in prison. All of a sudden, she is Tupac listening to rap.


KIMMEL: What rap does she like? Gift wrap is probably the only -- (LAUGHTER)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "CONAN": Mitt Romney back in the news. Mitt Romney gave a commencement speech where he advised graduates to start a family before they turn 30. Yes. He also advised them to pay for it by inheriting millions of dollars.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Vice President Joe Biden had a little trouble today playing air force 2, apparently, stuck in Arizona because of problems with its engine. Officials say they're trying to fix it as fast as they can then Obama was like, no rush.



BERMAN: All right. EARLY START continues right now.


SAMBOLIN (voice-over): Startling new allegations of a cover-up in the wake of the Boston bombings. Three college pals now accused of hiding evidence from a dorm room.

BERMAN (voice-over): Happening right now, a wall of flames. Three thousand acres wide creeping ever closer to homes and lives.



SAMBOLIN: And fighting in the streets while you were sleeping. Cops in a violent clash with angry May Day protesters.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. It is Thursday, May 2nd, 6:00 a.m. in the east. A lot going on this morning, but we're going to start with a major developments overnight in the Boston bombing investigation. Investigators now taking a very close look at several people in the Tsarnaev Brothers' inner circle.

Sources telling CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and publicly identified him as a Boston terror suspect. The timing important there. Also, three of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's friends were arrested yesterday, two of them charged with conspiring to destroy or discard Dzhokhar's laptop and a backpack containing fireworks.

That happened after the attack. The third man arrested allegedly for making false statements to federal investigators. Pamela Brown in Boston right now with the latest on these developments. Good morning, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, good morning to you, John. These three suspects now in federal custody for what they allegedly did after the Boston marathon bombing. After their arrest yesterday, the big question looms, will there be more arrests in connection with this case? The focus of the investigation continues to be centered on the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev as new developments come to light.