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Model Murder Trial; Starting the Cancer Dialogue; The Cost of BRCA Tests; Woman Pulled From Rubble After 17 Days

Aired May 15, 2013 - 06:30   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Stephanie Elam has a look at this case.


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. They assert 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.


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Stephanie.

A stunning 911 call released this morning in the Leila Fowler murder case as her 12-year-old brother heads to court today accused of stabbing her to death. The 8-year-old girl was found dead in her northern California home. This was last month.

Here is the 911 call her stepmother Crystal Walters made.


PRISCILLA RODRIGUEZ: My children are home alone and a man just ran out of our home. My older son was in the bathroom and my daughter started screaming.


RODRIGUEZ: When he came out, there was a man inside of my house. I need an officer there.

DISPATCHER: The man is gone though?

RODRIGUEZ: They say he ran out but --


RODRIGUEZ: They're really scared.

DISPATCHER: Of course. How old are your kids?

RODRIGUEZ: Twelve and 9.


SAMBOLIN: Can you tell what's missing from that call? She never mentions that Leila was hurt.

The Fowler family hired a defense team to represent their son and they say he will be tried as a juvenile on second-degree murder charges.

BERMAN: A big day in court for O.J. Simpson. He will testify today in an attempt to get out of prison. The disgraced football star is trying to get his robbery, assault and kidnapping convictions thrown out. Simpson claims his old lawyer, Yale Galanter, was ineffective and told him he was within his right to take back property he believed had been stolen from him, as long as it was done without trespass or physical force.

Simpson did not testify in this 1995 murder trial or the 2008 case that landed him in prison.

SAMBOLIN: Thirty-three minutes past the hour.

Angelina Jolie revealed yesterday that she removed both of her breasts had a double mastectomy as a preventive measure to reduce her breast cancer risk. Her candor inspired me greatly.

It has been five weeks since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I've decided also to have a double mastectomy. And now, we want to focus on the empowerment here.

Talk to your doctor. Talk to each other. It could save your life. Maybe even your friend's life.

So, we brought together four women who became empowered patients -- that is an understatement -- and hoping they will be a source of inspiration to you, for those who maybe struggling with a cancer diagnosis.


SAMBOLIN: 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 the 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 have, was a much harder decision.


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

FLYNN: I think you were in a different time, a little bit.

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, all of that. So, that's been a big struggle for me is losing control.

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 waiting for cancer, which is how I felt. I felt like a ticking time bomb and I didn't want to sit around and wait for cancer. So, now, I'm a pre-vivor and I don't have to sit around and be a survivor.

SAMBOLIN: Interesting.

VICTORIA FLYNN: I made it. I survived. My mother didn't have that choice.

TARA FLYNN, UNDERWENT DOUBLE MASTECTOMY: And it was such a crazy cancer. It was such strong cancer that was going to kill her. And we never knew she was going to die, because she was so strong, that she never got sick in front of us.

So, when she did pass away, we were like, what? What do you mean our mother's not here? So, that wasn't happening to my kids. My kids were always going have a 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: A great, powerful support of women. I love them. One of the big concerns we talked about is the cost of this particular struggle.

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us.

Elizabeth, of those four women, three of them tested positive for the BRCA gene. Two had the blood test. One of them had a spit test that she said costs $99, that other test is sometimes $3,000, sometimes $4,000.

So, A, I want to know, what can you do if your insurance company doesn't cover that expensive test? And then I want to talk about this other test they mentioned.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: OK. So if your insurance company doesn't cover this test, genetic test, or, let's say, you're uninsured, what you can do, is you can go to Myriad, which is the company that makes the breast cancer genetic test, and you can ask them for financial help.

Here's the deal. Myriad is the only company that makes this breast cancer gene test, and so they have a monopoly. And so, they have vowed to help women who can't afford to do it themselves.

So keep them honest -- to borrow a phrase from a friend -- and make them live up to their commitment. Say, look, this is a test which can cost up to $4,000. I need your help. Help me pay for this.


COHEN: I'm sorry, go ahead, John.

BERMAN: No, go ahead, Elizabeth.

COHEN: I was going to say, the women in the piece were saying, when you mentioned $3,000, oh, I thought it was more. They're right. It can cost as much as $4,000 to get what doctors, what many doctors consider is the best test for most women.

BERMAN: One of the women that Zoraida talked to, that you talked to, Z, mentioned a spit test for $99. I hadn't heard about that before. Is that something that's effective? Reliable?

COHEN: You know, I've talked to doctors about this. They're like, look, there is really only one test that we can use when we're treating people, and that is the blood test that Myriad makes. I've heard about this spit test. Make you take it and it leads you to do the blood test, but if you want the real thing, if you really want to know if you carry the gene, you need the blood test.

Doctors cannot start making decisions and treating you based on the spit test. It's very complicated. Why? But you need to know which mutation you have. And the only way to do that is by doing the blood test -- the only way to really find out.

So, I wish I could say, yes. I'm all for saving money. Let me tell you.

SAMBOLIN: Ninety-nine versus 4 grand.

COHEN: I know. I'd love to say go do the $99 one. Unfortunately, doctors tell me, I just -- you just can't say that.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Elizabeth Cohen, appreciate you so much and know we're going to continue leaning on you as we continue telling more stories. Thank you.

COHEN: Thank you.

SAMBOLIN: And to learn more about the type of genetic testing Angelina Jolie had and whether it is right for you, visit

BERMAN: And coming up here, a CNN exclusive. The woman buried under rubble for 17 days -- SAMBOLIN: Look at her.

BERMAN: -- after the devastating building collapse. Look at her now. Hear her amazing story, when we come back.


BERMAN: Welcome back, everyone.

Your top stories now.

President Obama calling the selected targeting of conservative by the IRS intolerable and inexcusable. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has initiated a criminal investigation of the IRS. The inspector general's report reflects ineffective management for the agency abuses.

SAMBOLIN: An army sergeant assigned to a sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood in Texas accused of sexual assault, himself. And CNN learned this latest scandal, apparently, involved prostitution. The unnamed soldier is under investigation for pandering, abuse of sexual contacts, assaults, and maltreatment of subordinates. He's been suspended from all duties.

BERMAN: Attorneys for Cleveland kidnapping suspect, Ariel Castro, telling CNN affiliate, WKYZ, their client is not the monster being portrayed by the media and that they plan to plead not guilty if he's indicted. They may also ask for a change of venue in this case. Castro's lawyering also saying that he loves the daughter he fathered with Amanda Berry dearly and is committed to her well-being in the future.

SAMBOLIN: And Boston fire chief, Steven Abreira, firing back at critics who are questioning his leadership during the marathon bombing attacks. Thirteen of 14 deputy fire chiefs have signed a letter of no confidence claiming that he was more of a spectator than a commander at the height of the terror attack.

But the chief tells the "Boston Globe," he believed that situation was under control, and he felt there was no need to add another layer of management to an already complicated scene.

BERMAN: Forty-six minutes after the hour right now, and the women who against all odds survived for 17 days in the ruin of a collapsed garment factory is speaking exclusively to CNN.

SAMBOLIN: Reshma is now recovering after her near-death experience and talking about the ordeal for the very first time with CNNs Leone Lakhani.


LEONE LAKHANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pulled out of the rubble after 17 harrowing days, Reshma's rescue was hailed a miracle. We meet her at a military hospital where she's recovering. No broken bones or serious injuries, but she's still weak. We're asked not to rattle or move her. From her hospital bed, she described her unimaginable ordeal.

RESHMA, SAVAR SURVIVOR (through translator): I keep sleeping off and on. I couldn't see anything. It was so dark.

LAKHANI: Cracks in the building had already been detected, but I asked her if she'd been warned not to go to work.

RESHMA: No. No one told me. Everyone was looking to see which parts were cracked. So, I went in and I see that there's a wall where a little bit is cracked. The manager said, this is just water damage, and you guys can work.

LAKHANI: Day after day as the rescue efforts carried on above her, she lay in pitch dark, scavenging for food and water.

RESHMA: It was a halt. I didn't know if it was dirt water or what type of water. I was thirsty, so I drank.

LAKHANI: She had no idea how long she'd been inside. I asked if she heard the people outside during rescue efforts. She heard nothing and saw nothing until the 17th day when it all changed.

RESHMA: Suddenly, I heard the call to prayer, then I heard sounds. I heard the sounds of voices and wondered where is the sound coming from? Where is the sound coming from? I was really, really happy and I said, God, save me, God.

LAKHANI: Images of Reshma's rescue were seen the world over. Rescuers had thrown in a flashlight allowing her to find a fresh set of clothes to change into.

RESHMA: The day I got out, all of my clothes had torn off me. I didn't have many clothes on. I was thinking how was I going to come out in front of all of those people.

LAKHANI: She tells me she's unsure about her future but she knows she's not going back to the garment business.

RESHMA: Everybody, please, pray for me.

LAKHANI: With the world's eyes upon her, many already are.

Leone Lakhani, Savar, Bangladesh.


BERMAN: What a great story. How great it is to see her there doing well.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, having water and talking and, like -- you know, it's nothing short of a miracle.

BERMAN: Seventeen days in the rubble.

Forty-nine minutes after the hour right now and F bomb, bad for charity. Red Sox slugger, David Ortiz is now famous phrase to help Boston marathon bombing victims. We will have the wicked, awesome blanking details coming up next in the "Bleacher Report."

SAMBOLIN: Are they really using the word?


BERMAN: Fifty-two minutes after the hour right now. You remember that shortly after the Boston marathon bombings, Red Sox DH David Ortiz had a message for the terrorists. He said, "This is our -- blanking -- city." He didn't really say blanking, though.

SAMBOLIN: No, we kind of get it. So, now, Ortiz is using that really colorful language to raise money for all of the bombing victims. Joe Carter joining us with the "Bleacher Report." Good morning.

JOE CARTER, BLEACHER REPORT: Hi. Good morning, guys. Yes, basically, Ortiz is going to take that memorable quote and print it right on basketball bats for people to buy and he's going to take that money and give it to charity. It was just a few days after the Boston bombings when we saw Ortiz stand in front of the Fenway crowd live on TV and basically say exactly what was on his mind.

Now, Ortiz and the company that makes his baseball bats are partnering up to make these baseball bats. And not only doesn't have the famous quote right on the bat, it also has a silhouette of Ortiz pointing to the sky. It also has the words "Never Forget" and "Boston Strong." Now, unsigned bats going for about 125 bucks, autographed bats going for 500. You can purchase them at Big Papi's website, which is A 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the bombing victims.

(INAUDIBLE) NBA playoffs. The New York Knicks, they are in trouble after last night's 11-point loss to Indiana, they're now down three games to one. Carmelo Anthony had 24 points, JR Smith had 19 points, but the rest of the New York Knicks, ice cold. Indiana's George Hill, on the other hand, had a solid game. You know, he's really been the driving force behind their playoff success.

Amp the loss, Carmelo Anthony knows his team is down but says, you know what? I feel like we're not out.


CARMELO ANTHONY, KNICKS ONE-GAME AWAY FROM ELIMINATION: At this point, you know, it's do or die. We've got to win the next game. Take it one game apartment a time, but, I mean, there's no need for nobody to hang their head at this point. We've still got a game. We still got to play basketball.


CARTER: All right. So, the most competitive playoff series going right now has to be the Spurs and Warriors, and, well, it was anything but competitive last night. The old man Spurs ran the floor like they were in their early 20s again. They hammered Golden State, one of the youngest teams in the NBA by 18 points. San Antonio is now up 3-2. Game six in Oakland on Thursday. This next piece of tape proves not everybody is built to perform under pressure. At Indians/Phillies game last night, a fan sitting upper deck reaches over the railing and snag this ball bare handed. Now, the very next pitch, the very next pitch, another ball to nearly the exact same spot is hit, but this time, the fan -- well -- drops it.

Ah. Embarrassing, right? Considering the guy who just caught the ball is sitting just a few seats away from you. Embarrassing, and -- keeping true to their reputation of being -- well, let's just say some of the most obnoxious fans in all of sports. What did they do, guys? They decided to boo the man who dropped the ball. You know, just to dig him a little bit. The Phillie fans just booed him a little bit.

BERMAN: He knew it was coming.

SAMBOLIN: Such a guy thing.

BERMAN: All right. Joe Carter, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SAMBOLIN: We'll be right back.


SAMBOLIN: That is it for EARLY START. Thank you for joining us today. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "Starting Point" begins right now.


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

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Christine Romans. Our "Starting Point" this morning, 13 out of 14 deputies calling out Boston's fire chief for his handling of the Boston marathon bombings. Their damning accusations in a moment.

BERMAN: Then intolerable and inexcusable. President Obama saying the IRS has failed the public's trust over its targeting of groups connected to the Tea Party. So, how deep does this scandal go?

ROMANS: And she survived trapped underneath rubble for 17 days. For the first time in a CNN exclusive, we're hearing from the woman who lived through the Bangladesh factory collapse.

BERMAN: Plus, Brad Pitt talking about his partner, Angelina Jolie's brave admission about a double mastectomy. What he is saying this morning about her stunning revelation and how millions of women around the world right now are reacting.

It's May 15th, and "Starting Point" begins right now.