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Model Murder Trial; Good Samaritans

Aired May 15, 2013 - 05:30   ET



ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): No confidence. The chief of Boston's fire department under fire for how he handled the marathon bombings.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Five years. That's how long murdered model, Juliana Redding's, family has waited for justice. Today, her alleged murder for hire trial begins.

SAMBOLIN: And decked out in tuxes and gowns. Twenty kids heading for prom have a date with destiny, jumping from a limo, and rescuing seven people from an overturned van. They have a great story to tell.

BERMAN: They sure do.

SAMBOLIN: Great kids.


BERMAN (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN (on-camera): And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. Thirty minutes past the hour.

BERMAN: And new this morning, Boston's fire chief, Steven Abraira, is firing back at underlings who are questioning his leadership during the Boston marathon bombing. (INAUDIBLE) has learned that 13 of 14 deputy fire chiefs has signed a letter of no confidence, claiming the chief was more of a spectator than a commander at the height of the terror attacks.

But, the chief tells "The Boston Globe" that he believed the situation was under control and he felt no need to add another layer of management to what was already a complicated scene. Today marks 30 days since that day of the marathon bombings.

SAMBOLIN: And just a few hours along, awaited murder trial begins into who killed actress and model, Juliana Redding, back in 2008. Prosecutors say her death was a hit carried out by a, quote, "female James Bond." CNNs Stephanie Elam with more on the alleged murder for hire case.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than five years after aspiring actress and model, Juliana Redding, was found strangled and beaten to death in her Santa Monica, California apartment, her accused killer will finally stand before a jury.

LISA BLOOM, LEGAL ANALYST: This is the first case I've ever heard of where a woman is accused essentially of being a hired goon to go beat somebody up.

ELAM: Redding was just 21 years old when she left Tucson, Arizona, to pursue her dreams of stardom. She had some success, appearing in an independent film, a music video, and a photo spread in "Maxim" magazine. But her dreams were cut short, prosecutors say, by this woman, 47-year-old Kelly Soo Park (ph). Soo Park was hired by a physician to kill Redding after her father, a pharmacist, pulled out of a business deal with him just five days before she was killed.

Court documents also alleged that the doctor made payments to Park totaling more than $250,000 just weeks before Redding was killed. However, the doctor, who left the country shortly after Park's arrest, has never been charged in this case. Park remains free on a $3.5 million bond. Her lawyers say she's innocent and that the prosecution should be looking at John Gilmore, a former boyfriend of Redding's.

But prosecutors believe they have a strong case against Park, especially since her DNA was found not only in the victim's apartment but also on her body.

BLOOM: If the jury believes the ex-boyfriend was responsible for this killing, there still remains a question, how do we explain Ms. Park's DNA being at the crime scene?

ELAM (on-camera): The trial is expected to last about three months. And unlike other murder cases we've seen recently, like Jodi Arias or Casey Anthony, only portions of this trial will be televised.

Stephanie Elam, CNN, Los Angeles.


BERMAN: Our thanks to Stephanie for that report.

Leila Fowler's 12-year-old brother will be in court today for the stabbing death of his sister. The eight-year-old girl was found dead in the Northern California home late last month. Police just releasing the 911 call that summoned (ph) officers to the scene. The children's step-mother, Crystal Walters, made the call. She never mentioned that Leila had been attacked.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My children are home alone, and a man just ran out of my house. My oldest son was in the bathroom, and my daughter started screaming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he came out. There was a man inside of my house (INAUDIBLE). The man is gone, though? (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. How old are your kids?



BERMAN: The Fowler family has hired a defense team to represent their son. He will be tried as a juvenile on second-degree murder charges.

Russia is calling the arrest of a U.S. diplomat in Moscow a cold war provocation. The Russian security agency, FSB, says U.S. embassy employee, Ryan Christopher Fogle, tried to recruit a Russian intelligence officer. He was caught red handed with a spy gear, including wigs, recording devices, and what appeared to be a stack of euros.

So far, there's been no comment from the U.S. embassy. The state department will only say that an officer at the embassy in Moscow was briefly detained and then released.

SAMBOLIN: It is 34 minutes past the hour. I revealed a very personal struggle yesterday in part because of Angelina Jolie's courageous actions. I disclosed yesterday that I have breast cancer. It's been five weeks since I was diagnosed, and I've decided to have a double mastectomy. Jolie's candor has inspired me and other women to start a dialogue, talk to your doctor, talk to each other. It could save a life.

So, we brought together four women who became empowered patients, and we're hoping they'll now be a source of inspiration for you, for all of those who may be struggling with a cancer diagnosis as well.


All right. So, Angelina Jolie comes out with this amazing op-ed piece that she has had a preventative double mastectomy. I just want you all to chime in on how you took that news when you found out.

VICTORIA FLYNN, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: Well, I found out pretty early as I was getting the kids ready for school, and I kind of heard it on the TV, and I said, well, we don't share the gene for legs. We don't share the genes for getting skinny right after you have many pregnancies, but we do share one gene, and it's this one.

JILL STEINBERG, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: Making a decision to have the double mastectomy, it was a no brainer. It was the easiest decision. For me, what type of reconstruction I was going to have was a much harder decision.

GERALYN LUCAS, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: I feel shallow because it was a hard decision for me.

VICTORIA FLYNN: I think you were at a different time a little bit, you know?

LUCAS: A little bit. I was 27, and the word mastectomy wasn't in the culture.

SAMBOLIN: By nature, as journalists, we tend to be control freaks. We like to control everything and know when it's going to happen, how it's going to happen, plan it and all that. And so, that's been a big struggle for me is losing control. The only -- I mean, the only thing that I can control is I decided to have a double mastectomy, and so, that to me was complicated. How did you all feel about that, about that lack of control?

STEINBERG: Well, I felt that I did have control, and like Angelina Jolie, I could take care of this now instead of sitting around and waiting for cancer, which is how I felt. I felt like a ticking time bomb. And, I didn't want to sit round waiting for cancer. So, now, I'm a previvor. And I don't have to wait around to be a survivor.

TARA FLYNN, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: It's so hard, but I made it. I survived. My mother didn't have that choice. And it was such a crazy cancer, and it was such a strong cancer. It was going to kill her. And we never knew that she was going to die. So, she was so strong that she never got sick in front of us. So, when she did pass away, we were like what? We need our mother side here. So, that wasn't happening into my kids. My kids were always going to have mother here. Always.

SAMBOLIN: I want to deal with this BRCA gene. This test is really expensive. It's $3,000.

TARA FLYNN: We were talking about. It also was even more when we took it. Our insurance covered it.

SAMBOLIN: Why? Because you had a history, a strong history of it?

TARA FLYNN: Yes. I think --we were in a special, earlier, special surveillance program at Sloan Kettering.

STEINBERG: I found out through 23 and me, which is an at home genetic test, and I wasn't testing for the BRCA gene. Even though my sister had breast cancer, she was negative. So, by the time the results came back, I had already forgotten about it. And, I was just shocked that my sister had breast cancer, but I had the gene.

SAMBOLIN: So, to me, the decision was not simple. I mean, it was in the sense that my first -- when I got diagnosed by my first team of doctors, they were talking mastectomy. I walked out of there like cut them out. Can we do it tomorrow? Then I got my second opinion, and I started thinking a little bit differently. I thought about my kids right away. And i thought about the fear of not being there in the future. And that's powerful, right?

TARA FLYNN: That touched me with Angelina Jolie.


TARA FLYNN: She has kids.

SAMBOLIN: Right. It's like -- from that standpoint, it is a no brainer.

LUCAS: See, this is what makes me so sad is that women have to think we're vain? Like so many women say to me, I feel so vain. I lost my hair. I'm like you're not vain. That is a horrible thing to lose your hair.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. That to me was -- I was embarrassed by how difficult that decision was.

LUCAS: Don't be. It's a terrible decision to have to make. It's terrible.

SAMBOLIN: And so, it makes you start thinking about your sexuality, which I've thought more about than I ever have before in my life, and how this will affect that.

STEINBERG: Well, you'll get through all of the dreams and all of the yuckiness and the surgery, and that will be part of your past. And you won't think about that again. I've moved on, and you don't look back.

SAMBOLIN: But you're different now?

STEINBERG: With clothes on, with a bathing suit on, nobody knows.

VICTORIA FLYNN: What helped me was I still buy really pretty bras. I could buy bras I couldn't buy before.

TARA FLYNN: Victoria's Secret.

VICTORIA FLYNN: I go to Victoria's Secret and buy the prettiest bras, and I feel really pretty in them.

STEINBERG: you're no less feminine before and after. I think femininity comes from within.

LUCAS: Yes. I think a lot of it's up here. It is normal to be overwhelmed by the mortality of it, and what you did makes me think that you know how to take care of yourself. And you've already probably saved a life as a result of your experience.


SAMBOLIN: Can I tell you that I got a lot of work to do up here. I felt yesterday, when I talked to them, that they empowered me. They gave me a lot of hope, a lot of courage. Their stories were unbelievable, and they shared far more than I ever thought anybody should have to share, but I was so grateful for it.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece for, and I vowed that whatever I learn, I am going to share because that journey is so important. And to have that kind of access to people is just amazing. And so, that's part of this sharing. I wish everybody could have those women. BERMAN: I mean, obviously, having those women talk to you has been so helpful, and I think having you talk about this so openly will be so helpful, hopefully, to a lot of people.

SAMBOLIN: I hope so. Again, a lot of e-mails. So, just you know, very quickly, i want to say thank you for all of the e-mails and all of the support that has poured in, and all of the stories. And I'm trying my best to answer every single one of them because there are some women that are walking through my exact same journey.

And, I don't want to diminish that. I want to reach out. It's just going to take me a minute to go through the volume of it. So, I appreciate it. I really do.

BERMAN: Turns out we all like you.



BERMAN: After all. Forty minutes after the hour.

Coming up next on EARLY START, Prince Harry steps up to the plate, hanging with Governor Chris Christie and even taking on a Bronx bomber.

SAMBOLIN: Did he hit the ball?

BERMAN: How did he do? What did he hit? We'll tell you after the break.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back. Forty-four minutes past the hour. There is little doubt to the Prince Harry's latest U.S. tour is a huge hit.

BERMAN: The British royal stepped up to the plate here in New York City, wow, not bad, going 3 for 3. He was hitting everything that Yankees slugger, Mark Teixeira, threw at him yesterday. You know, maybe Teixeira should be working on his rehab and not pitching with the prince --


SAMBOLIN: So, he also impressed in hurricane Sandy ravaged new jersey. CNNs royal correspondent, Max Foster, followed his every move.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There've been precious few opportunities for Americans to come close to British royalty, Prince Harry, on this tour. But this was one of them. It was an upbeat atmosphere with a serious message. New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, introducing Harry to first responders, who coped heroically during and after hurricane Sandy. TAYLOR CIRIGLIANO, NEW JERSEY: It puts smiles on people's faces knowing that they're going to get to meet the prince. So, it was really cool that he came and helped like support what happened in hurricane Sandy.

PRINCE HARRY, GREAT BRITAIN: It's an amazing experience. Everyone getting together and making things right. It's fantastic, really good.

FOSTER: Then, a quick drop-in on his prime minister who was at an event to promote British industry. Then on to a baseball field in Harlem. His pitcher was no less than Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees.


FOSTER (on-camera): Well, he turned out to be quite a nifty player in the end here. He's a bit of a cricket player, so maybe it was that. But this is really about promoting the cause. It's about getting young kids from deprived areas into sports and to get them all the confidence that comes with that.

(voice-over) Harry's causes also need money. So, he closed out Tuesday with a fundraiser with specially invited Manhattan donors.

WILL I.AM, MUSICIAN: He's a party guy. He's a technology guy. He comes from royalty. And -- but he's a real person. The similarities between "Iron Man" and Prince Harry are similar.

FOSTER: And today, another fundraiser, this time in the form of a polo match in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is the final event in what's being dubbed Harry's rehab tour.

Max Foster, CNN, New York.


SAMBOLIN: So, Prince Harry's getting around in a good way.


BERMAN: Yes. We'll just leave it at that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-six minutes past the hour. Coming up, it's a moment they will never forget. How 20 high school seniors bound for their prom managed to rescue seven people trapped inside a flipped over van? Their incredible story is coming up.

BERMAN: And they looked great.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone. Some Florida high school students are being praised for their heroic efforts on prom night.

SAMBOLIN: They didn't think twice about helping the victims of a nasty auto accident. Christine Romans has this great story.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This is not what you expect when you're getting ready. All dressed up in tuxes and gowns. They saw a van flipped over. They saw people trapped inside. That's when these kids took action.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the baby? Where's the baby?

ROMANS (voice-over): A date with disaster. Twenty high school students on their way to prom find themselves caught in the middle of a horrific accident.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the baby?


ROMANS: When their limousine came to a screeching halt, narrowly missing this flipped van with groceries strewn across the interstate with five adults and two children trapped inside.

ASHLEY WOLF, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: We're in the limo, and we're all dancing, having a good time. Excited to go to prom. And then, all of a sudden, the bus slams on its brakes. I was the first to think call 911. So, I stepped to the side and called 911. I was calm.

ROMANS: Undaunted, decked out in tuxes and gowns, the glammed up teens jumped into action. High school senior, Peter Kim, was one of the first on the scene.

PETER KIM, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: I opened up the trunk, and then, the first person I saw was the -- like the 12-year-old or 11-year-old boy. I grabbed him, and then I gave him -- I set him down and told him to sit down, that he was going to be all right.

ROMANS: Peter seen here, carrying the youngest child, who he pulled out of the vehicle.

KIM: She was laying there, and like, it got to me a little bit because like she wasn't moving at all. And I saw her baby girl like just laying there, and I went to go reach her, and that's when she turned around and said take my baby, take my baby, like take her, save her.

ROMANS: The limo driver along with his young but brave passengers are credited with saving lives.

DANNY IZZI, LIMO DRIVER: We pushed the van and pulled the baby out. Then we started pulling the mother out from the back of the truck.

ROMANS: All of the injured taken to an area hospital and expected to make a full recovery. As for the teen heroes, they went on to their prom, a bit disheveled but still with high hopes.

WOLF: Once we knew they were OK, we were just happy to know they were all alive, and we enjoyed our night.

ROMANS: A night they're sure to never forget.


ROMANS (on-camera): And the image that really gets me from all of that is Peter Kim, the young man, all dressed up to go to prom, taking up that little girl, the baby, putting up the baby, taking the baby over, presumably to the baby's mother to say here she is. She's OK. And these kids just partying in the van, and then -- in the limo, rather, so quick thinking, these kids on the ground.

BERMAN: Good for them.

SAMBOLIN: Big heroes.

ROMANS: Nice story. Congratulations to all of them.

SAMBOLIN: Thank you. Thank you.

BERMAN: Prom kings and queens to be sure, of the first order.

Still ahead, so he's got hand, not the George Costanza variety, we're talking about a real bionic breakthrough. Check that out coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. Stories trending this morning. Boston strong and Boston naughty. Red Sox DH David Ortiz, he often brings the Fenway faithful to their feet, but he really did it with just one phrase right after the Boston marathon bombings. What he said, this is our blanking city. I don't think he's going to really say blanking, though. He said something else.

SAMBOLIN: We get it, Berman.

BERMAN: And now Ortiz is using that colorful language to raise money for bombing victims. He's teaming up with the company that makes his bats to sell souvenir featuring the quote along with the words "Never Forget," "Boston Strong." "4-15-13." Good for Big Papi. Hopefully, the Red Sox will win against them.

SAMBOLIN: That would be nice.

All right. So, the world's oldest profession is apparently a brisk business on Linked In. A standard update to Linked In user agreement reveals prostitutes and escorts are among those listed on the professional networking website. Yes, indeed. Despite the fact that they're not permitted to use the site, even if they work in a state where prostitution is legal. The company says it's working with subscribers to clear up any confusion this may be causing.

BERMAN: I was going over their head, the 10 jillion invitations to join Linked In, like, how many were from prostitutes?


BERMAN: And a pretty amazing story from Texas this morning. A man born with no fingers on his right hand gets a life-changing percentage that out (ph). Sixty-one-year-old Richard Bracado (ph) now had bionic fingers. It's a state of the art, that's from a $6 million man that's on effect, a state of the art prosthetic called i-touch digits. When he moves the muscles in his arm, the fingers move.

SAMBOLIN: Look at this.

BERMAN: It's amazing. With a slight flick of the wrist, the fingers open and then close. And of course, the new bionic digits come in really handy for a good old fashioned high five.


SAMBOLIN: That's incredible. What were the sound effects about?

BERMAN: It's -- you know, it's like, you know, the six million dollar man, Steve Austin?

SAMBOLIN: I do remember, but I don't remember that.


BERMAN: It was very important to me, the sound effects.


SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-eight minutes past the hour.

To check out our other top CNN trends, head to

BERMAN: EARLY START without sound effects continues right now.



SAMBOLIN (voice-over): No confidence. The chief of Boston's fire department under fire this morning for how he handled the Boston marathon bombing.

BERMAN (voice-over): The IRS scandal now a criminal investigation, and the president promising punishment for anyone at the agency who targeted conservatives.

SAMBOLIN: Pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault. Shocking new allegations rocking the army's Ft. Hood.

BERMAN: And a newly released 911 calls in the murder of eight-year- old Leila Fowler. Her step-mother doesn't even mention the little girl was hurt in this call.


SAMBOLIN (on-camera): All right. Good morning to you. Welcome to EARLY START. Glad you're with us. I'm Zoraida Sambolin.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. Great to see you this morning. It is Wednesday, May 15th. It is 6:00 a.m. in the east.

We begin with brand new developments in the Boston marathon bombings. Boston fire chief, Steven Abreira, coming under fire for how he handled the crisis. CNN has learned the 13 or 14 deputy fire chiefs have signed a letter of no confidence claiming the chief was more of a spectator than a commander at the height of the terror attack.

But the embattled chief tells the "Boston Globe." He believed the situation was under control and he felt no need to add another layer of management to what he believed was already a complicated scene.

SAMBOLIN: And one congressman calls it a blatant abuse of power by the IRS. The justice department opening a criminal investigation into the agency's tactics, targeting conservative political organizations for tax scrutiny. President Obama says the IRS' behavior is intolerable. It is inexcusable. And he's promising to hold people accountable for their actions. More now from CNNs Brianna Keilar.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Internal Revenue Service is facing a criminal investigation after a watchdog report found the agency targeted conservative groups starting in 2010.

The agency's inspector general found the IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.