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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

FBI Focus On Tsarnaev Brothers' Inner Circle; 747 Cargo Jet Crashes In Afghanistan; FBI Seeks Three Men About Deadly Benghazi Attack; Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial; Young Unmarried Moms On The Rise; Bootleg Botox?; Kriss Kross Rapper Dies At 34; Boy Kills Little Sister; Investigation At Home Of Saudi Diplomat; NRA Names New President; Daughter of Newtown Victim Confronts Senator

Aired May 2, 2013 - 07:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. Let's update you on the new developments in the Boston bombing investigation this morning. Three friends of the surviving suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev now suspects themselves. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov are charged with trying to discard evidence.

BERMAN: The third suspect, Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements. Now sources tell CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow spoke with him after the FBI released his photo and identified him as a Boston terror suspect. Again, the timing is very interesting.

ROMANS: On the evening of Friday, April 19th, in a neighborhood in New Bedford, Massachusetts, residents were dealing with the tragedy of the Boston bombings and then this happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it's him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep your hands up. No one will get hurt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: A SWAT team, FBI, local authorities lining the street. Felix Jorge, a resident grabbed his camera and began shooting the action taking place across the street from his apartment. He joins us here this morning to tell us what was happening there. So it must have been just a surreal experience. Tell me, why did you grab the camera, what did you think was going on?

FELIX JORGE, FILMED FBI CONFRONTATION IN NEIGHBORHOOD: Well, to be honest with you, I didn't know what was going on. I actually thought that they had the suspect in the neighborhood and that he was in the house at the moment. Of course, I was very terrified. My children and I head downstairs in the basement closet and we were just waiting for anything to happen, you know? BERMAN: You live in Massachusetts, of course. I was there that day. I mean, so much of Massachusetts was on edge, areas around Boston, people told to stay home. Was it a nervous time for you, knowing or at least suspecting that this whole thing was going down right in your neighborhood?

JORGE: Yes, I mean, Boston is about an hour away from where I live so I thought, wow, you know, I definitely feel sorry for the folks in Boston and everything. But I was like, you know, good thing it didn't happen over here because we're a pretty small town. For this to happen, I mean, 40, 50 SWAT people and police and state police and everything to show up on your doorstep, rifles, you know, with a storm moving in, a literal storm, it really was one of the scariest moments of my life.

ROMANS: So that was two weeks ago, tell me, what's your reaction now to the news that three more suspects have been arrested, three acquaintances of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the youngest terror suspect, they have been arrested. What was your reaction to their arrest?

JORGE: I mean, I sincerely believe and my personal opinion. I think that they may actually have something to do what what's going on only because they know the state that, you know, that America is in with, you know, terror and things like that. So why would you risk yourself, why would you risk your freedom, why would you risk your stay in the United States to cover up for your friend for what could be allegedly, you know, a terrorist act. Why would you do that?

BERMAN: How well do you know these guys? You live in that neighborhood.

JORGE: To be completely honest, it was kind of a hi/bye situation. You would see them every once in a while. But after talking to some of the neighbors nearby yesterday I was actually informed that they were kind of party animals. So I never knew that. They just seemed like nice kids to me who were cordial when I saw them.

ROMANS: Kind of party animals, that's what the other neighbors are saying?

JORGE: Yes, yes, that's what I was saying. I never saw it because they lived in the building across the street from me. When I would see them, the cab would pick them up every single night. They would go to work very much. When I saw them in the day, I would say hi. There was never any hint that they were mean spirited. Just seem to be nice kids.

ROMANS: Shot that video, thank you for bringing it to us this morning. Thank you so much. It's nice to see you.

BERMAN: It's 34 minutes after the hour right now. An investigation under way to determine the cause of a cargo plane crash in Afghanistan that killed seven Americans. The crash appeared to have been recorded by a dashboard camera although CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the video. We want to warn you here, this video, incredibly disturbing. CNN's Chris Lawrence is in Washington this morning for us to piece this all together. Good morning, Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. Yes, the NTSB is leading a team of investigators that have arrived in Afghanistan to try to find out what went wrong. I know you hear Afghanistan and you think military aircraft, but this was a 747, like you and I might fly to Europe.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): The video is dramatic 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 nearby Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, killing seven American crewmen including Brad Hasler.

BILL HASLER, BROTHER OF CRASH VICTIM: If I could trade places with him so that he could be with his family, I would in a heartbeat.

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

HASLER: This is his daughter, Sloan, who is 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 5 M-Rats each weighing about 27,000 pounds.

STEVEN WALLACE, FORMER FAA OFFICIAL: Securing them is absolutely critical to safety.

LAWRENCE: Steven Wallace is the former director of the FAA's Accident Investigation Unit. He says there is no forgiveness in a plane's center of gravity.

WALLACE: Basically, there can only be so much weight at each part of the plane so it's critical that the total weight be within the limit and that the plane be balanced.

LAWRENCE: The 747 can take off a couple different ways. When it's carrying passengers, it will take 4 to 5 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 2 minutes faster.

WALLACE: The typical concern with a cargo aircraft and that has caused accidents before, when the airplane has rotated with the nose up, the cargo moved aft if it's not properly secured.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LAWRENCE: Normally the cargo is chained down, but if one of the chain attachments fails, it's possible that it could shift. Look, this is just one possibility. In a massive shift of weight is much more difficult on a commercial 747 because the passengers and the weight are very evenly distributed in the seats -- John, Christine.

BERMAN: All right, Chris Lawrence for us in Washington. Again, those pictures are simply awful. Thanks, Chris.

ROMANS: All right, the FBI this morning releasing photos of three men who may have information about the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last fall. They're not considered suspects, but the FBI wants to find and speak to them because they were seen on the grounds of the mission when it was attacked. Four Americans were killed including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

BERMAN: Big day of testimony ahead in the Michael Jackson wrongful death civil trial. On the stand yesterday, an LAPD detective said 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 was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson's 2009 death after administering an overdose of the powerful anesthetic Propofol.

ROMANS: In today's "A.M. House Call," new information showing the number of young, unmarried moms in this country is on the rise. According to the Census Bureau more than 60 percent of new mothers in their early 20s are single. That's up to a whopping 36 percent since 2005.

The Census Bureau report shows why variations of unwed mothers by income, race, and location. The states with the most unwed mothers under 25 years old, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Federal officials are warning consumers in health care professionals about fake Botox. The FDA says the bootleg Botox comes in a counterfeit box and that the vial inside is foreign and not approved for sale in the U.S. Botox manufacturer Allergen warns that these illegal imports could either be counterfeit or compromised version of the real thing.

Autopsy will determine the cause of death for 34-year-old rapper Kris Kelly, half of the 1990s rap duo Kriss Kross. Kelly died Wednesday at an Atlanta hospital after being found unresponsive in his home. Known to fans as Mac Daddy, Kris Kelly was 13 years old when he and his partner, Kris Smith were discovered by the producer Germane Dupree.

The duo scored a big hit with "Jump" in 1992. They opened for Michael Jackson on his "Dangerous" tour. Kelly's mother has issued a statement. She writes, quote, "To millions of fans worldwide, he was the trend setting backwards pants wearing one half of Kriss Kross who loved making music. To us, he was just Khris, the kind, generous and fun loving, and life of the party."

BERMAN: Too bad. Ahead on Starting Point, Senator Kelly Ayotte confronted by the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim over her stand on gun control. We will speak to that woman, Erica Lafferty, about why she did this. ROMANS: And then unmanageable tragedy for one family after the shooting death of a toddler killed by her 5-year-old brother with the gun he was given as a gift. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Checking top stories, tragedy in Southern Kentucky where a 2-year-old girl is dead. Shot and killed by her 5- year-old brother with a rifle he received for his birthday. State police have ruled this as an accident. Shannon Travis is following developments for us, a heartbreaking story, Shannon.

SHANNON TRAVIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and John, I mean, this is really just one of those stories you absolutely never want to hear about, right, a child dying at the hands of another child, in this instance, as you mentioned, a 5-year-old boy killing his 2-year-old sister. Her name was Carolyn Sparks.

Now, obviously anyone would want to know what happened here. Here's what we understand. It happened at a home in Southern Kentucky on Tuesday. The mother of the two children left them alone literally just for a few minutes after she went outside. Unfortunately, that was long enough for the boy to grab a .22-caliber rifle. Listen to how relatives describe the horrible outcome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just tragic. It's something that you can't prepare for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just know she's in heaven right now and I know she's in good hands with the Lord.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRAVIS: In the Lord's hands. A Kentucky State Police trooper said this has been ruled an accident. He called it a nightmare. Also, that rifle, it belonged to the boy, officials said. He got it for his birthday. One police official said it's common for young children in this part of Kentucky to get a gun or rifle from their parents.

In this case, it appears it was one of those rifles specifically for kids. It did have a child safety lock, according to the local county coroner. And according to a local report, this family told officials they kept the rifle in what they thought was a safe place -- John and Christine.

ROMANS: A reminder that with guns and kids, I mean, just a month ago, we had a case where two 4-year-olds in two different cases were shot and killed. I know legal experts were saying it's very rare to have any kind of charges of negligence or anything that comes up because D.A.s tend to think the family has suffered enough. This often happens within families.

TRAVIS: And that they are often ruled accidental, Christine.

ROMANS: Yes, all right, Shannon Travis. Thanks, Shannon.

BERMAN: An awful story.

It's 45 minutes after the hour right now. Closing arguments today in the Jodi Arias murder trial in Phoenix. The prosecution and defense are expected to take four to five hours each, so this could spill into tomorrow. Arias is accused of killing her boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008. She insists she was acting in self-defense.

ROMANS: A Saudi Arabian diplomat living in an upscale home in Washington, D.C. suburb is a focus of a human trafficking investigation this morning. Federal officials say they removed two Filipino women from his home in Virginia. They claim they were being mistreated, the women did. The diplomat has not been identified yet.

BERMAN: The National Rifle Association getting a new president, Alabama Attorney Jim Porter will take over the top spot starting on Monday. Porter will replace current president, David Keene, whose two-year term concludes this week at the NRA's annual meeting in Houston.

Porter has a long family history with the NRA. His father, Irving Porter, served as the NRA president from 1959 to 1960. Of course, often the public face of the NRA is the executive director, Wayne Lapierre, not the president. But Jim Porter is taking over as president.

It's 46 minutes after the hour. Ahead on STARTING POINT, the daughter of the principal killed in the Sandy Hook shootings confronted Senator Kelly Ayotte over background checks this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school isn't as important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: She will tell us why she's taking on Congress one member at a time, coming up next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

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BERMAN: On December 14th, Erica Lafferty lost her mother in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dawn Hochsprung was the principal and she died trying to protect her students. In her memory, Erica has fought for gun reform.

ROMANS: At a town hall event Tuesday, Erica confronted Senator Kelly Ayotte who voted against a recent gun control measure. She questioned why the senator believes background checks are a burden on gun owners.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERICA LAFFERTY, DAUGHTER OF NEWTOWN VICTIM: I'm just wondering why the burden of my mother being gunned down in the halls of her elementary school is not as important.

SENATOR KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I felt the enhanced improvements to our background checks system, as you and I both know, the issue wasn't the background check system, the issue is Sandy Hook.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The senator went on to explain she thinks the problem lies in the mental health reform, but that wasn't good enough for Erica. She joins us now this morning. It's nice to see you this morning.

To tell me a little bit about what you said to the senator. You said, look, I don't think that the burden for gun sellers, why is that the focus and not the burden on me losing my mother or my mother having to defend her kids? Explain to me exactly what you said and what your point was to the senator?

LAFFERTY: I had actually spoken with her the day after the vote, in her office in D.C. and she said that there was too much of a burden that was going to be imposed on people who were trying to sell guns.

ROMANS: That bothered you.

LAFFERTY: That's not good enough. You know, what about the burden on the families of the 33 people a day that are murdered in the United States? Why is that not as important as the burden that would be imposed from a background check, something that takes 90 seconds?

BERMAN: So you went to a town meeting in New Hampshire, you are not from New Hampshire, is this something you are going to do to other people too, other senators?

LAFFERTY: Absolutely.

BERMAN: What's the goal?

LAFFERTY: To make them human again, to let them know that this isn't a political issue. It's not about not wanting to agree with Obama, giving him a win. It's about people, it's -- it's the moral issue. It's not political at this point. It's common sense and it's about caring and being human.

ROMANS: You confronting her now twice. Are you going to continue to talk -- how long will this go on? Will you continue to her? Will you follow other senators too?

LAFFERTY: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Can I ask -- you know, obviously that there were Democrats who voted against it as well, and the president has been criticized on many fronts. You know, Maureen Dowd wrote a column saying that the president should have done more to get this passed. Do you believe that the White House is partially responsible for the failure of this bill?

LAFFERTY: I believe that their support specifically to me has been phenomenal. Their guidance has been great. I do feel if we started earlier in trying to contact the senators that we might have had a better chance with the vote a couple of weeks ago.

BERMAN: So maybe there's mishandling of the political process?

LAFFERTY: Yes. My regret is that I didn't start earlier.

ROMANS: How could you? It's been a whirlwind I'm sure in the months since Sandy Hook. You're going to the NRA Convention. You're leaving today. What do you hope to do? What do you hope your presence there will do?

LAFFERTY: I just want to make my mom human to them instead of just another name on a list of people who were murdered. She was a person. She was a great person. They need to know that.

BERMAN: Does that take courage to stand up? I mean, a lot of people at the NRA convention I'm sure do not agree with the position on this issue. Are you nervous going in there?

LAFFERTY: No. I mean, they are people too, and I am trusting that they are going to be respectful as I am.

BERMAN: Respectful maybe, but do you think you can change minds there?

LAFFERTY: I hope so.

ROMANS: One of the things I think is interesting about this too is that, you know, some have said that they worry -- people who are supporters of these measures worry that as every day and week passes since Newtown, that somehow urgency goes away in Washington, but you look, for example, at Senator Ayotte's approval rating, it's taken a little bit of a hit since this.

A poll by WMDR shows 88 percent of New Hampshire adults support background checks and a long-time Democratic operative in New Hampshire who said this has hurt her. Kathy Sullivan, former head of the State Democratic Party told "Politico" this, "It hurts her elections. They are won with votes of independents, particularly independent women. Independent will women will not favor a candidate who does not believe in background checks. Will it be the only issue?"

At the same time though, this is actually kind of varnishing her reputation among people who are gun rights activists are calling her a hero for guns rights. So it is keeping it in the public forum. Do you worry that at some point, as more time passes that the urgency of gun reform will change?

LAFFERTY: I'm going to put every ounce of energy in my body to make sure that doesn't happen.

BERMAN: Can you show us your hand? We're looking at a tattoo on your hand. ROMANS: I don't know if you can see this. It's says, it's her mom's signature. It's say, Mommy, smiley face, heart, and it says mommy. Tell us again this was a note she sent to you?

LAFFERTY: Yes, about seven years ago, she wrote me a note reminding me to stay safe. And I had her signature traced off of it, so I can have it with me and look at it hundreds of times daily.

ROMANS: It's nice to see you, Erica Lafferty. Thanks for coming by.

BERMAN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Ahead on STARTING POINT, three new arrests in the Boston marathon bombing investigation. Is this a sign that the Tsavraev brothers weren't acting alone? We'll talk about the case with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

BERMAN: And 3,000 acres burned, a home destroyed, the struggle to stop a California wildfire. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. Our STARTING POINT this morning, three more arrests in the Boston bombing investigation. Friends of the surviving suspect accused of trying to get investigators off his trail. Could more people be involved? Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani weighs in on that.

BERMAN: A wildfire burns out of control in California as the flames forcing people from their homes. We are live with the latest to put this fire out.

ROMANS: Violence during May Day protests on the streets of Seattle. At least eight officers injured, 18 people arrested. Details on those arrested in a moment.

BERMAN: You know, the controversy is growing over access to over the counter emergency contraceptives by women of all ages including young teens. The Obama administration is stepping in. The question is did a judge overstep his bounds.

It is Thursday, May 2nd. STARTING POINT begins right now.

Our STARTING POINT this morning, investigators in the Boston marathon bombing zeroing in on the Tsavraev brother's inner circle. Sources tell CNN that Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow spoke to him after the FBI released his photo and publicly identified him as a terror suspect.