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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Witnesses Videotape Escape From Captivity; Interview with Maria Castro-Montes; Escape From Captivity; Bizarre Behavior At Ariel's House; Mother's Day Parade Shooting; Leila Fowler's Brother Under Arrest; O.J.'s Fight For Freedom; Police Officer's Act Of Kindness

Aired May 13, 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.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: Two women who thought they were about to get in trouble with police wound up as witnesses to history. They happened to be driving on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, last week, at the very same time that officers were about to storm suspected kidnapper Ariel Castro's home.

At first, they thought they were being pulled over by cops. Once they realized what was happening they broke out a cell phone camera and they began rolling on the final moments of that ten-year horror story.

ROMANS: Also, an interview you'll only see on CNN, Pedro and Onil Castro breaking their silence about their brother, Ariel. The unspeakable crimes he allegedly committed and the effect it's having on their own lives. They're going to tell our Martin Savidge they're feeling very much like victims, too, even though they were quickly cleared by police shortly after their arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ONIL CASTRO, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S BROTHER: I want this to be true. Like I said earlier I want to wake up out of this nightmare.

PEDRO CASTRO, KIDNAPPING SUSPECT'S BROTHER: I want to say that I don't want to be hunted down like a dog for a crime that I did not commit. I don't want to be locked up in my house because somebody out there is going to do harm to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Joining us now is Maria Castro Montes. She is a cousin of Ariel, Onil, and Pedro Castro. Her father is brothers with their father. Thank you for joining us this morning. It's so nice to see you. When you hear that, when you hear those two cousins, your cousins talking about being hunted down for a crime that they did not commit, tell me what's happenin0g with your family, and how your family feels about, I guess the public perceptions there.

MARIA CASTRO-MONTES, COUSIN OF OHIO KIDNAPPER, ARIEL CASTRO: Right. You know, it's very difficult, first of all, because we did, you know, the media was making it look, and the police did make it look like it was all three. So there was certainly a great sense of relief when we found out that the two had been found innocent.

You know, I should hope, one of my initial statements was to please not judge an entire family based on one person's actions, and here then became a perfect example. You know, these poor men have also fallen victim to the horrible things that their brother did.

And I should hope that people remain rational and realize that the reason that they were let go is because the girls themselves have made these statements to the police that there was no one else involved specifically, these two brothers.

So they have to accept that and move on and realize that they're totally innocent. And so please, just not retaliate against these two brothers or their mother.

ROMANS: What's your reaction to their interview? I mean, they said they wanted to, they sat down with CNN so they could really clear the air, and make sure people knew that they, they are disgusted by the alleged actions of their brother, that they don't want the family to be pointed in the same light.

MONTES: Right. Right, exactly. And I mean, it's painful, as well. You know, in watching his daughter's interview. It's obvious that he fooled everyone. You know, he obviously lived two separate lives. And you know, everyone thought that he was the good person, that we all at some point in our lives had thought him to be. And now all of these things are coming to light, and it's got to be horrifying.

It's horrifying for me, and I'm just a cousin. These are the people that lived their lives with him daily. I can't even imagine what they're thinking and what they're going through.

ROMANS: What are your -- you and your family members talking about? I mean, are you all sort of going through your memory, going through history and trying to find tell told telltale signs or any kind of red flags in hindsight. I mean, it must be I can only imagine everyone's wracking their brains trying to figure out what did we miss?

MONTES: Right. Well, we -- we have wracked our brains, unfortunately, not about what we missed about this case, because there certainly could have been anything that we missed. None of us had been in the house and there weren't any signs with him and we didn't see him that often, more recently.

What we've wracked our brains about is, is when we did know him, and interacted with him in such happy times. I think back now to what point in his life made him change? At what point in his life when I was looking at him, even in younger days, did he already have some evil heart. At what point was there a turning point? That's what I'm finding difficult also to come to grips with.

ROMANS: I want to play a little bit of sound from that interview, so many fascinating, fascinating responses from Onil and Pedro, but in particular unusual behavior about the house. Listen. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

P. CASTRO: He would let me in, not past the kitchen.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Could you see anything beyond the kitchen?

P. CASTRO: No, because there's curtains.

SAVIDGE: He had the house blocked off with curtains?

P. CASTRO: Yes.

SAVIDGE: And what about, could you hear anything in the home?

P. CASTRO: No. The radio was playing all the time.

SAVIDGE: He would play music all the time?

P. CASTRO: Yes. If not the radio, the TV, something had to be on at all time in the kitchen.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: Such odd behavior. But he really, people didn't really go to his house very often. People in the family really didn't go there very much, did they?

MONTES: Right. Right. I mean when you think about it, he was a bachelor, and you know, most bachelors don't entertain. And as far as the music, you know, obviously in hindsight we look at it back now and say, he was trying to muffle sounds and that kind of thing.

But he was a musician, and, you know, being Hispanic we love our music. I blast my music in my car. Most people do or in my home when I'm cleaning or cooking or doing my daily chores. So, the sound of music isn't anything for people to have found as strange.

ROMANS: All right, well, Maria, thank you for coming and sharing your story with us this morning. And again, just I can't imagine how the family must be just going over every little detail over the years, just such a shocking, shocking turn of events. Thank you.

BERMAN: Another major story we're following this morning, new developments in New Orleans, where police are asking for the public's help to track down the suspect behind a shooting at a Mother's Day parade that wounded 19 people including two children. They're now offering a $10,000 reward for help.

CNN's Alina Machado is live in New Orleans for us. Alina, the New Orleans Police Department released surveillance photos brand-new this morning. Tell us about these.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we want to actually show you those photographs. It's a series of photographs that were released by the New Orleans Police Department and in them we see a man with a white shirt, he seems to walk toward a crowd and starts shooting. It looks like he's shooting into the crowd and then he sees -- he seems to be taking off, running away from the scene.

The New Orleans Police Department tells us this man is a suspect in this case. They are trying to figure out exactly who he is and they are asking for the public's help in doing just that. Now this shooting happened in the Seventh Ward yesterday afternoon around 1:30. The Seventh Ward, that neighborhood where it happened, is just a few minutes from LSU Medical Center.

This is where several victims were brought for treatment, and this shooting happened during a parade. There were hundreds of people outside during the shooting. They were out enjoying the parade, celebrating Mother's Day. Here are two eyewitness accounts we have for you. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody started running and running and running and we weren't sure what's going on and they're shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just opened my door today and two guys just collapse right there on my steps. You know, me and my daughter did the best thing we can to revive them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACHADO: Again, 19 people were wounded in this shooting, and most of these wounds are not considered to be life threatening. Police say most of the wounds were graze wounds. Two children were hurt in the shooting, the ages of those children 10 years old. Of course, police continue investigating and trying to figure out exactly what happened -- John.

BERMAN: Trying to find the identity of that suspect in the white T- shirt. Thank you, Alina Machado for bringing us the new video and all the new developments this morning from New Orleans.

ROMANS: New developments in the murder of 8-year-old California girl Leila Fowler:12-year-old brother under arrest for allegedly killing his sister. Their stepmother Crystal Walters posted a message on Facebook saying quote, "Thank you for those who are standing by us in this devastating time for our family. Thank you for respecting our privacy during this time. We need a little space. Happy Mother's day to all."

CNN's Dan Simon live in Valley Springs, California. Good morning, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine. For two weeks this community was absolutely terrified and on the lookout for a killer. Someone they believed randomly barged into a home and targeted an 8-year-old girl. Well, now the sheriff says this was far from random.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SIMON (voice-over): In the days after her killing, an emotional candle light vigil to remember 8-year-old Leila Fowler, known for her bubbly personality.

AMY HASSELWANDER, PRINCIPAL, JENNY LIND ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Leila was beautiful and strong. She was kind. I remembered that Leila liked purple.

SIMON: Leila's family among the mourners, seen here was her 12-year- old brother, the one who had told police that an intruder stabbed his sister while they were home alone, and their parents were at a Little League baseball game. A story authorities now say was a lie.

GARY KUNTZ, CALAVERAS COUNTY SHERIFF: At 5:10 p.m. detectives arrested Leila's 12-year-old brother at the Valley Springs Station and -- on charges of homicide. These types of cases require a certain amount of time and it was our commitment to make sure that we did a thorough job as possible.

SIMON: The family remained visible throughout the investigation. Leila's mother spoke about the closeness between her son and daughter.

CRYSTAL WALTERS, LEILA FOWLER'S STEPMOTHER: He never like pushed her around like big brothers and sisters do. He never like was ever was mean to her.

SIMON: In the immediate aftermath of the killing two weeks ago, this usually serene Northern California community of 7,500 went into a near frenzy, as nervous residents believed a killer was at large, and wondered whether there would be more victims.

PATRICIA CAMBELL, RESTAURANT OWNER: I've lived here 33 years. I've never seen anything like this happen. We've had bad things happen in our community, but never like this to a little child.

SIMON: Patricia Cambell owns a popular diner in town. She and everyone else we talked to her were shocked at the turn of events.

CAMBELL: It's bad enough to lose one of your own children. I can't imagine losing one, too by the hand of one of my own. I couldn't imagine that.

HENRY KING, VALLEY SPRINGS RESIDENT: It was surprising, but I kind of had a feeling that it might be him, you know. A lot of people don't want to look at it that way, you know, but it seems like family, you got to look at the family first, for me.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIMON: Well, authorities are not releasing the brother's name because he is, in fact, a minor. Christine, the main question today is why and what ultimately made investigators suspicious? Back to you.

ROMANS: All right, Dan Simon in California. Thanks, Dan.

Ahead on STARTING POINT, O.J. Simpson wants a new trial claiming bad legal advice put him behind bars. Could he get his way? A live report on that next.

BERMAN: And then this is not what you expect to see when you open your front door especially on Mother's Day. One family discovers an eight-foot alligator outside their house. The whole story and how they survived right after the break. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT, everyone. So his trial of the century was actually in the last century, but this morning, O.J. Simpson will be back in court. Simpson is currently serving prison time for armed robbery. Now, he wants a new trial claiming his lawyers did such a bad job that his conviction from 2008 should be thrown out.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is live in Las Vegas with the details on this. Good morning, Paul.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John. O.J. Simpson is now 65 years old, almost 66. He'll walk into the courtroom in his prison uniform and there's a legal fight going on right now to try to get the handcuffs also removed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERCAMMEN (voice-over): These are the last images of O.J. Simpson in public, being led out of a Las Vegas courtroom to prison in late 2008. Simpson was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery for leading armed men into a hotel room to try to settle a dispute over sports memorabilia he wanted back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were just robbed at gunpoint by O.J. Simpson.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson was secretly recorded during the confrontation, which became part of the 2008 trial testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Still -- out here.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson's new lawyers will argue their client was so horribly represented in that kidnapping trial. He deserves a new trial and freedom.

PATRICIA PALMS, SIMPSON LEAD DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We firmly believe he did not get a fair trial. I think that's going to bear out during the hearing. We want the judge to take a fresh look at this, what should have been presented, what wasn't presented, what was said, what wasn't said.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson is expected to take the witness stand this week, something he never did in the Las Vegas kidnapping trial, or his sensational televised trial in 1995, where he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Other witnesses expected this week are now retired prosecutors in the Las Vegas case, and Yale Gallanter, he was Simpson's lead attorney in the kidnap trial, and a former ally. (on camera): Simpson's new lawyers will argue that Gallanter had a conflict of interest in part because of his business dealings with the football star.

(voice-over): Simpson has been housed at the Lovelock Correctional Center in northern Nevada. His lawyers call him a model inmate.

PALMS: It's common in the prison for there to be different factions that don't get along with each other, and because of his status as a celebrity, and his personality, he's sometimes mediates between different groups when they're having conflicts.

VERCAMMEN: Simpson is now hoping his new legal team will spring him from prison for good.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERCAMMEN: and Simpson is serving a 9 to 33-year sentence. His new lawyer's going to argue that that sentence was too harsh. Back to you now, John, Christine.

BERMAN: This will be interesting, Paul. It's been a long time since we've seen O.J. Simpson. Paul Vercammen is in Las Vegas. Thanks so much.

ROMANS: All right, this is Berman's favorite story of the day. A family in Parkland, Florida, got this. Yes, a scaly Mother's Day surprise. Waking up to find an eight-foot alligator right on their front porch.

BERMAN: At first the mother thought it was some kind of elaborate Mother's Day prank. But seriously, this was no joke. What they did is they called in the famous gator boys to remove the alligator.

ROMANS: They bagged it and took it back to Holiday Park in the Florida everglades. Coming up at 8:30, we're going to hear from one of the gator boys.

BERMAN: Yes, it doesn't look like it was easy here. You know, Paul will explain how he captured take alligator, I assume the answer is very carefully, my goodness.

ROMANS: Also ahead on STARTING POINT this morning, after a police officer meet a teen walking home from work, she decides to give him the gift that keeps on giving. Their amazing story next. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: It became the ride of a teenager's life. Phoenix Police Sergeant Natalie Simonick spotted 18-year-old Christian Felix was walking along a late at night and thought he might be breaking curfew.

BERMAN: It turns out that he missed the bus after work so he had to walk nine miles to get home. Christian explained to the officer that he did not have a bike and never learned to ride one. So Sergeant Simonick was so impressed with the young man, she gave him a bike and with the help of her squad, taught Christian how to ride it.

Sergeant Simonick and Christian Felix join us now live from Phoenix. It's great to see you this morning. Thanks so much for being with us.

SGT. NATALIE SIMONICK, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: Thank you. Good morning.

BERMAN: Let me ask you, sergeant, what went through your head when you saw Christian walking that night?

SIMONICK: Well, it was late at night about, 11:00 and I saw this young juvenile walking. And it was a desolate area, so I was thinking maybe he's violating curfew or possibly a runaway. So I pulled up next to him and I asked him what he was doing. He said that he had missed the bus and that he was walking home, and he had a long way to walk.

BERMAN: And Christian, you're thinking you're in big trouble here. So you go from thinking, gosh, I'm in big trouble to getting a bike and bike lessons. What's that been like?

CHRISTIAN FELIX, RECEIVED BIKE FROM POLICE OFFICER: It's been -- it's unbelievable. I didn't think anything like this would happen from just walking late at night and then somebody just says a kindness like that for you. It's crazy.

ROMANS: And you work at a McDonald's, so sometimes you work different shifts. If you miss the bus, it's hard get being back and forth. How has the bike changed things and how was to learn to ride the bike?

FELIX: Well, at first it was kind of embarrassing because I'm 18 and all my friends, they kind of messed with me, give me a hard time. Like Christian is 18, doesn't know how to ride a bike. Then they said don't worry about age, you're doing fine. So thanks, dude.

BERMAN: Sergeant, you could have just given him a ride home and said goodbye. What made you decide to get more involved here?

SIMONICK: Well, on the ride home, I was talking to him and he said that he never knew how to ride a bike and I was shocked over this because, you know, all the kids I know how to ride a bike. And when I brought him home, his mom was so thankful that I had given him a ride home. They actually had been texting each other, she was making sure he was OK as he was walking.

So I just noticed the great relationship between him and his mother and she said he was a really good kid, never been arrested before, doesn't drink, do drugs, and he has a job. And I just thought that was great. You know, good person. And so then I went home and I started thinking about it and I'll like I have an extra bike at home, why not teach this person, Christian, how to ride a bike.

BERMAN: It sounds like you're both pretty good people based on the evidenced we're seeing here. Sergeant Simonick, Christian Felix, thank you so much for being with us. Good luck riding, Christian. We know you can do it. FELIX: Thanks.

BERMAN: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, Onil and Pedro Castro, they break their silence exclusively to CNN. Why the brothers of kidnapping suspect Ariel Castro say they now feel like victims, too.

ROMANS: And in California, the older brother of murdered 8-year-old Leila Fowler taken into custody by police. You're watching STARTING POINT.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ROMANS: Welcome back. Good morning. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. Our STARTING POINT this morning, the brothers of the Cleveland man accused of kidnapping three women and holding them in horrific conditions for 10 years, the brothers speak exclusively to CNN.