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Extreme Weather; French Gangster Captured; Newborn Rescued From Sewer Pipe; Home From Vacation Hell; Update On Zoraida; Inside Arias' Jury Room; Harvard Dean Steps Down; Money Laundering Charges; Zimmerman Defense Setbacks

Aired May 29, 2013 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Tornadoes tear across the Heartland while wildfires scorch the West and heat wave moves to the East. Conditions right for dangerous weather across the country today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The incredible rescue of a baby from a drain pipe. This morning, the mother speaks out. Could this really have been just an awful mistake?

ROMANS: She stabbed her lover 28 times, slit his throat, shot him dead. Jurors in the Jodi Arias trial speaking out for the first time on why they couldn't decide if she should get life or death.

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman. It is Wednesday, May 29th, 6:00 a.m. in the East, and we are on high alert today because we begin with a recipe for dangerous, dangerous weather. Conditions right for tornadoes, hail, high winds as a line of severe storms intensifies.

At least two twisters touched down in Kansas yesterday, damaging two dozen homes, and today, and through the end of the week, we could see extreme weather from Texas all the way to the Great Lakes. Not only that, but here in the northeast, we're talking about some really high temperatures. Indra Petersons is here tracking it all for us. Hi, Indra.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Not just in the middle of the country, literally stretching from coast to coast. Take a look.


PETERSONS (voice-over): A new round of tornadoes ripped through the heartland late Tuesday. Storm chasers getting these images of twisters in Rural Kansas. Storm chaser Sean Casey reported as he followed one of the twisters.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": Sean, I understand you're chasing a tornado right now. What's going on?

SEAN CASEY, STORM CHASER (via telephone): See this is my first interview while looking at a tornado. So, we were hoping it's going to come up onto our road and we will drive right up to the southern half.

PETERSONS: Casey's team captured this rare and frightening video inside a tornado in Smith County, Kansas, on Monday. The potential for supercell thunderstorms, damaging winds, and hail threaten a number of states from Texas to New England today. In the plains, strong, damaging tornadoes are possible.

In areas littered with damage meteorologists warn of high wind gusts kicking up and carrying dangerous debris across the area. On the west coast, dry conditions fueling wildfires in Santa Barbara, California scorching over 1800 acres in Los Padres National Forest.

In Valencia, helicopters attacked the blaze from above as brushfires near Magic Mountain burned 25 acres in less than an hour. The northeast contends with a much different picture from snow this weekend to what could be a record-breaking heat wave, temperatures rising double digits across most of the region.

With the threat of extreme weather coast to coast, there's the high probability of storm chasers capturing more images like these.


PETERSONS: Definitely a lot of wacky weather out there. We'll start you off in the northeast where we saw rain about a half an inch in New York, 2-1/2 inches towards Erie, Pennsylvania. What we're watching is a warm front kicked through the area and temperatures will soar 20 to 25 degrees warmer.

Meanwhile cold front will sag right towards New England so with that the threat for severe storms. There is the slight risk in that New England area. Now all the way on the west coast we showed you all the fire threats and dangers out there. We're talking about strong winds again. Still high wind warnings gusting to about 50, even 60 miles per hour not out of the question.

Warm temperatures soaring even into triple digits this weekend in that area, but the big story continues. It is all that dry weather really banging up against that moist air coming in out of the gulf. With that we're talking about 3 million people today looking at the moderate risk.

That means moderate risk for severe thunderstorms that could potentially produce tornadoes, large ones similar to last week. Unfortunately, the bull's-eye is over Wichita and even Oklahoma City.

ROMANS: All right, Indra Petersons, thanks so much, Indra.

New this morning, now you see it, now you don't, a massive sandstorm triggering a series of freeway accidents in Lancaster, California. Authorities say 60-mile-per-hour wind gusts kicking up the sandstorm creating near zero visibility causing more than two dozen vehicles to crash. This sandstorm forcing the 14 freeway to be shut down for hours.

BERMAN: Also new this morning notorious French gangster who used dynamite to break out of prison last month, back behind bars. Redoine Faid was the subject of an international manhunt following his dramatic prison escape in Little France. That was on April 13th. Back in the 1990s, Faid established himself as a high profile criminal in France with a series of armored truck robberies.

ROMANS: All right, we're learning more this morning about the incredible rescue of a newborn baby boy in China. The mother of that infant who was trapped in a sewer pipe, I mean, you can see -- you can see rescue workers cutting him out there, she now says she deeply regrets what she did.

Police say the mother rushed to the toilet after she began to feel stomach pains and subsequently gave birth to this baby. They say she was unable to hold the infant and he slid into the pipe through the hole in the toilet. Investigation is ongoing. The baby is recovering in the hospital.

But the whole world watching as rescue workers cut the pipe apart, ran the whole section of pipe to the hospital so they could carefully with surgeons open up that pipe and remove that baby. They could hear him crying and see his little foot when they looked down in the toilet originally, just amazing.

BERMAN: Well done by those doctors.

Hundreds of frustrated vacationers are making their way home after flames erupted on their Royal Caribbean cruise. Investigators still have no idea what caused the fire Monday on the "Grandeur of The Seas." It stranded more than 2,000 passengers. CNN's Erin McPike has the latest.


ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Three days before their vacation was scheduled to end the first of 2,200 Royal Caribbean cruise ship passengers returned safely to the port of Baltimore Tuesday. The "Grandeur of The Seas" journey was cut short by a fire aboard at 3:00 a.m. Monday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pretty terrifying at first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the water, you could see the glow of the fire, but we had no idea how big the fire really was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people were just in shock, and it was early, and just wondering what was going on.

MCPIKE: Some passengers said when they saw lifeboats lowered they thought the "Grandeur of The Seas" was sinking. It was the latest scare in what has been a string of debacles for the cruise industry. Last year, 32 people died when the "Costa Concordia" capsized off the coast of Italy.

Carnival's "Triumph" stranded passengers in the Gulf of Mexico in February and Carnival's "Dream" left others without power in March. Executive director of the Global Maritime Center Richard Burke says the incidents don't spell out a pattern for the industry.


MCPIKE: The latest black eye for the industry intensifies the public relations problems they face, but Attorney John Hickey says passengers have little recourse in nightmarish vacations.

JOHN HICKEY, HICKEY LAW FIRM: If passengers don't have any physical injuries or the threat of physical injury, they're, you know, basically under the terms of the ticket and the federal statute, not allowed to sue.

MCPIKE: Royal Caribbean is giving full refunds and vouchers for future cruises to the "Grandeur of The Seas" passengers and some say they will cruise again. Erin McPike, CNN, Baltimore, Maryland.


MCPIKE: A dangerous collision between a truck and a freight train and this morning federal investigators trying to figure out how it happened. They're on the scene in Baltimore, where several of the derailed cars exploded. They caught fire moments after that accident. The explosion was felt blocks away as clouds of black and white smoke filled the area. Firefighters rescued the driver, who was trapped in his truck. He was seriously injured. Officials from the railroad saying the burning substances are not toxic.


KEVIN KAMENETZ, BALTIMORE COUNTY EXECUTIVE: We've received word from CSX that there's no toxic inhalants, which is really just a reassurance to the area that it's not an unsafe area. You don't have to evacuate.


ROMANS: Residents in about 70 homes in the area were told they could leave if they felt unsafe, but they were not forced to evacuate. Several industrial buildings in the area also damaged.

BERMAN: So I think this qualifies as the best news of the day. As you know, my EARLY START partner Zoraida Sambolin took a break on Friday after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Zoraida opted to have a preventive double mastectomy and on Tuesday, doctors in Chicago performed the procedure. And they say it went very, very well.

Right now, they say there is no sign that the cancer spread. Zoraida is doing great. We're happy to report, you know, she rested easily overnight. We heard only terrific things from her family. She plans to come back and share more of her journey as soon as she feels up to it. You can see her right there.

We're all thinking about Zoraida so much yesterday and again this morning. That was her son, Nikko, with her right there. Again, the great news, no sign the cancer spread. The surgery went very, very well. Team Z very excited this morning.

ROMANS: Best of luck for a classy, strong, strong friend, Zoraida.

Ahead on EARLY START, jurors in the Jodi Arias case speaking out. Why they say they could not reach a unanimous decision on the death penalty.


ROMANS: Welcome back. We're now hearing for the first time jurors who convicted Jodi Arias of first degree murder for killing her ex- boyfriend Travis Alexander. Last week, the jury deadlocked during the sentencing phase. Eight jurors wanted the death penalty. Four others held out for life forcing the judge to declare a mistrial. What were they thinking and why couldn't they make a unanimous decision?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That the defendant should be sentenced, no unanimous agreement.

ROMANS (voice-over): For nearly five months, jurors in the Jodi Arias trial listened to gory details of a gruesome murder and were subject to intense media coverage. That jury could not unanimously decide whether she deserved the death penalty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror number three, is this your true verdict?


ROMANS: Juror Marilou Allen Coogan felt the state proved its case. She voted for the death penalty.

MARILOU ALLEN-COOGAN, JODI ARIAS JUROR: I don't think she ever was truly honest with us. I know that for me, I didn't see any remorse or any issues with herself for what happened that day, for what Travis went through. I didn't see any of that.

ROMANS: Jury Foreman William Zervakos would not say how he voted, but said he looked at other factors as he told ABC's "Good Morning America."

WILLIAM ZERVAKOS, JODI ARIAS' JUROR: I'm very sure in my own mind that she was mentally and verbally abused. Now is that an excuse, of course not. Does it factor into decisions that we make? It has to.

ROMANS: The reaction to the jurors' decision has become so heated that his Zervakos' son wrote about his dad receiving threatening letters in this blog post. Today, I read hate mail my dad has gotten. Some person sent him a threatening message complete with his e-mail address, full name and phone number, which at the very least means this guy should retake hate mail 101.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Times have changed. In the past jurors worried that, for instance, if they sat on an organized crime case that they might be threatened by the mob. Today, jurors who sit on high profile cases are afraid that the threat will come from the internet.


ROMANS: There will now be a retrial in the penalty phase. The new jury will be empanelled on July 18th until the prosecutor decides to no longer seek the death penalty and agrees to a life sentence instead.

BERMAN: The wife of Philadelphia abortion provider, Kermit Gosnell, about to learn her own fate. Gosnell received three life terms earlier this month charged with murder after performing late-term abortions at his West Philadelphia clinic. His wife, Pearl, and three other clinic workers will be sentenced today. Gosnell apparently turned down a plea deal that would have kept his wife out of prison. The wife's defense lawyer says having his name is like being Mrs. Frankenstein.

ROMANS: Fort Hood mass shooting suspect, Major Nadal Hasan, wants to represent himself at his upcoming trial and today a judge will consider that request. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people, injuring 32 more at that Texas base in 2009. His trial is scheduled to start June 5th. A Dallas station reports Hasan has been paid $278,000 since his arrest, and that his salary cannot be suspended until he has been found guilty.

BERMAN: The dean of Harvard College says an e-mail scandal earlier this year had nothing to do with her decision to step down. Evelyn Hammond who was the college's first African-American and first female dean of the school says she will take a sabbatical before returning to teaching. There were calls for her resignation in March after her office conducted a secret search of e-mail accounts of resident's deans to find out who leaked information about a cheating scandal.

ROMANS: Executives with a major global online cash transfer business run out of Costa Rica are under arrest facing U.S. charges of laundering $6 billion. Their company, Liberty Reserve, has been shut down. Federal prosecutors in New York say the company had become a financial hub for cyber criminals. They claim Liberty Reserve was linked to credit card fraud, identity theft, computer hacking and drug trafficking.

BERMAN: Big losses in court for George Zimmerman. The judge in the case refused to allow evidence that the defense argues may be crucial to their client's case.

CNN's Victor Blackwell has the story.


JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Neither will mention this in opening statement. Neither side will mention it all during the trial. I can't imagine there's any circumstance under which that will become relevant, but if it does, it will be done outside the presence of the jury.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We now know what will not be presented to the jury when George Zimmerman's second degree murder trial begins June 10th. The former neighborhood watch captain says he shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

Seminole County, Florida Judge Debra Nelson granted a slew of motions made by the prosecution Tuesday. The jury will not see Martin's school records, his social media postings, nor a picture of Martin wearing false gold teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're asking the court to prohibit the defense from making any reference or suggesting that Trayvon Martin prior to this date had ever been in a fight.

BLACKWELL: Judge Nelson agreed. And those texts and photos Zimmerman's defense attorney Mark O'Mara released to the media Thursday of a marijuana plant and a gun, those are off limits too.

MARK O'MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN'S ATTORNEY: The drugs and the history of his chronicity, his chronic use of drugs, and his familiarity with fighting and, to a certain extent, his familiarity with guns is completely relevant to the theory of defense. So, how could you keep us from arguing our theory of defense?

NELSON: Because the rules of evidence keep you from doing it.

BLACKWELL: Toxicology reports showing the presence of a chemical found in marijuana in Martin's system the night of the shooting may be introduced but not during opening statements.

Ben Crump represents Martin's parents.

BENJAMIN CRUMP, ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S PARENTS: This information was not relevant. It was inadmissible. And so, we have to not let people get away with trying to pollute a jury pool.

BLACKWELL: O'Mara's request to sequester the pool of 500 jurors was denied as was his request to take the jury to the community where Martin was killed February 2012.

If Zimmerman is convicted, he'll spend a minimum of 25 years in prison. That detail will be kept from the jury, too.

Victor Blackwell, CNN, Sanford, Florida.


ROMANS: From terror victim to prom queen in six weeks. Sydney Corcoran showing the world the meaning of "Boston strong". The 18- year-old Lowell High School senior suffered serious injuries to both of her legs in the marathon bombings. Last night was emotional for her because a few short weeks ago Sydney wasn't sure if she would ever make it to her prom, let alone be crowned prom queen.


SYDNEY CORCORAN, PROM QUEEN: When I was in the hospital I didn't think this was going to be possible. When I got to the rehab, and I just, because I was up and I was doing stuff, it just, it felt more like I could do it. I'm just feeling like I'm going to cry because I'm just happy to be back. But, seeing them I'm going to start crying. It's just really good to see everyone.


ROMANS: Sydney's mom Celeste lost both of her legs in the marathon bombings. She's now waiting for a pair of prosthetics.

BERMAN: Pulling for them.

ROMANS: Me, too.

BERMAN: All right. Ahead on EARLY START, so if you squint your eyes just the right way, this teapot may actually look like Adolf Hitler. Why this ad has JCPenney in hot water.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back. Minding your business this morning.

OK, the bull market is so -- is so strong, sizzling here, that even "USA Today" has changed its little icon to a bull with a nose ring. Five banner headline -- column banner headline, "Bull run gets solid footing." $12.8 trillion added in stock market wealth since the low in 2009.

It has been an amazing run for stocks, and it was another record yesterday.

BERMAN: This is serious and going.

ROMANS: Yes, the Dow is up 17.6 percent over the course of the year, and let me tell you here. Now, we have all of this economic data. A whole new batch of data yesterday, confirming what the stock market has been doing, consumer confidence at the highest level since 2008.

Americans say they feel better because the job market is getting stronger. They feel like their prospects for the economy and the job market are getting better. And over the past year, the job market has been averaging begins of 175,000 positions a month. Dow futures are down about 50 points today. We saw the IMF downgrade some growth forecasts for China. It still is a global story, no question.

But a very big run yesterday. And economic news that is corroborating with stock market investors have been saying for some time.

BERMAN: With home prices going up, people are starting to feel this where they live.

ROMANS: Absolutely. Home prices are going up. Consumer confidence is going up. The job market healing. It's not healed but it's healing.

Another big story we're following this morning -- a big controversy over a JCPenney ad. I want you to look at this billboard in California. You decide. Some people think that the Michael Graves bells and whistles teapot looks like Adolf Hitler.

Berman is over here squinting trying to see the resemblance.

JCPenney tweeted that it certainly was not intentional. We would have gone with something cute, think puppy dog, not dictator. All the talk made the tea pot a hot seller. As of last night, it was on back order online. But now, JCPenney --

BERMAN: People wanted to get their hands on the Hitler tea pot?

ROMANS: Apparently, or maybe they just thought it's a cute teapot.

Anyway, but now, JCPenney has taken it off its Web site.

I don't know. What do you think? Is it a stretch?

BERMAN: I had to squint. I saw it after a while.

ROMANS: Saw it after a while.

All right. Also, tip jars. Not that tip jars. Starbucks is in court this week over those cups at the counter. Who gets the money that goes into the tip jars? Right now, Starbucks baristas and shift supervisors split the tips but assistant managers want in on the action. It will come down to how New York interprets labor laws.

Managers claimed they spend most of their time serving customers and they deserve the tips, too. But baristas say they have a salaried job. So, they're paid more money. They don't need the tips.

The ruling could reach beyond Starbucks. In New York City, alone there are 250,000 hospitality workers. And you know what? No on has put anything in our tip jar.

BERMAN: Our tip jar is over here. And we will share. I'll share with you. No doubt abut that.

ROMANS: But nothing for you (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Up next a family's desperate plea for help. An American woman behind bars across the border accused of smuggling drugs.


ANNA SOTO, DAUGHTER OF YANIRA MALDONADO: She's an honest woman, she's innocent.


BERMAN: Her family says she was framed. We're going to get the latest on the efforts to win her release.

ROMANS: And from the other woman to queen in waiting, Camilla makes her international debut with some comparisons to Princess Di. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)