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NSA Leaker on the Run; Zimmerman Trial Opening Statements; Air Show Disaster; A Father's Plea

Aired June 24, 2013 - 04:30   ET



CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Diplomatic drama. The man who told -- and exposed the government secret surveillance program getting international help to escape a warrant for his arrest. Where he's trying to seek asylum this morning.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And it wasn't self-defense. Was it murder today? Opening statements finally in the George Zimmerman trial with the whole country watching, accused of killing unarmed teenager, Trayvon, martin in the street.

ROMANS: An American soldier held captive by the Taliban for years. Now new hope that he may soon be set free.

BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans, at 30 minutes pas the hour. It's 4:30 a.m. in the East.

BERMAN: And we have this special edition of EARLY START today because new this morning Edward Snowden soon may be on the move again. The NSA contractor -- former contractor turned leaker left Hong Kong for Moscow this weekend and may be headed to Ecuador. Ultimately he's asked that country for asylum.

The Obama administration not one bit happy. It has filed an objection with Hong Kong and China for letting him leave. They want Russia to return him to this country, saying, "We expect the Russian government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged." Next stop for Snowden is Cuba before he likely heads to Ecuador.

In South America, our Patrick Oppmann is in Havana for us this morning covering the latest developments.

And what is the latest, Patrick?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're just waiting to see what Edward Snowden's next move is in this global chess game. Does he, in an hour and a half get on the once-a-day Aeroloft flight to Havana as has been speculated, as has been reported by others?

And then once he arrives here in Havana, John, the U.S. begins to run out of options. If they can't convince countries like Hong Kong and Russia to hand over Edward Snowden, countries that the U.S. has working relationships with, much more concrete ties to, they don't have much of a chance here in Cuba where, of course, there is United States economic embargo, they're barely on speaking terms.

The Cuban officials haven't said what they'll do. All they've told us is that they're monitoring the situation very, very closely.

Ecuador, of course, is a close ally of Cuba. It stands to reason that if Ecuador asked Cuba to give Edward Snowden passage that he may well be on his way to asylum -- John.

BERMAN: In Ecuador, perhaps eager to embarrass the United States. That's why he may be headed there.

Patrick Oppmann in Cuba, thank you so much for us.

And I should add, you know, Aeroloft flight from Moscow to Havana is scheduled to take off in about an hour and a half, which is why we are here covering every minute of this for you this morning.

ROMANS: All right. In just a few hours both the prosecution and defense in George Zimmerman's murder trial will make their first impression on the jury during opening statements. Six Florida jurors, all women, five of them mothers, will determine if the former neighborhood watch captain shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

CNN's George Howell is covering this for us.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the second-degree murder trial against George Zimmerman, the first thing jurors will hear, opening statements.


HOWELL: Attorney Don West will open for the defense. Their goal over the next several weeks will be to convince jurors that George Zimmerman acted in self-defense the night of February 26, 2012. The defense aims to show Zimmerman as a man who was in a fight for his life the night he admitted to shooting and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

JOHN GUY, STATE PROSECUTOR: The state has supplied every report.

HOWELL: John guy will open for the state. Prosecutors must prove that Zimmerman was the aggressor. They'll argue that he profiled and continues to pursue Trayvon Martin even after a dispatcher told them not to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We don't need you to do that.

HOWELL: There's also the question of who was screaming for help on this 911 tape moments before the fatal shot. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think he's yelling help?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, what is your --

HOWELL: Prosecutors may also call on witnesses who claim it was Trayvon Martin screaming for help. But over the weekend, Judge Debra Nelson denied the testimony of the state's audio experts. CNN legal analyst Mark Nejame called it a setback for prosecutors.

MARK NEJAME, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Their audio expert was one of the major cornerstones of their entire case. From the beginning, we've been saying that whoever's voice it was crying for help suggested in fact showed that the other person was in fact the perpetrator.

HOWELL: The jury was sworn in last week. A panel of all women. Five who attorneys say are white. And one is black Hispanic. Their identities kept anonymous in order to protect their privacy.

George Howell, CNN, Sanford, Florida.


BERMAN: The murder and racketeering trial of former mob boss James Whitey Bulger resumes in Boston later this morning. The 83-year-old is charged in connection of 19 murders during his time allegedly running Boston's Winter Hill Gang in the '70s and '80s. Bulger's attorneys have asked the judge to lift a gag order citing personal attacks in the media. Prosecutors say that Bulger is free to tell his story on the witness stand.

ROMANS: A shocking story from Jacksonville to tell you about. A registered sex offender released from custody just three weeks ago now faces murder and kidnapping charges. Police say Donald James Smith abducted an 8-year-old girl from a Wal-Mart where he told her mother he would help her buy food and clothes.

Cherish Perrywinkle's body was found in a wooded area Saturday morning. Hundreds gathered Sunday to remember this little girl at a church not far from where she was found.

BERMAN: In New Orleans, a mother has been arrested for murder after her 5-year-old daughter shot and killed herself. The police say the mother left the girl home alone locked in a bedroom. When she came back, she apparently found her daughter on the floor with a gunshot wound to the head.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family is devastated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is devastated. This is a difficult time for the whole family. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: It's awful. The girl was taken off life support Sunday. Her mother is now facing second-degree murder charges.

ROMANS: To Mississippi now where a church argument turned deadly. Police shot and killed the son of a church deacon Sunday after they say he fired a shotgun. They returned fire, killing him. The argument at the church in a small town north of Jackson was over whether to fire the pastor.

Congregants have apparently agreed to settle the argument. Three police officers were actually leaving the church when the man showed up with a gun. The officer who shot him is now on administrative leave.

BERMAN: Family and friends of James Gandolfini will pay their final respects at a funeral service on Thursday here in New York City. The actor's body arrived home over night in Newark, New Jersey.

Gandolfini died last week in Rome. It was a heart attack. And the "Soprano" star and New Jersey native is getting a special Garden State tribute. Governor Chris Christie ordering state buildings to fly their flags at half staff to make Gandolfini's passing.

ROMANS: Federal investigators now poring over the wreckage of a plane that crashed during an air show in Ohio this weekend. With a crowd of thousands watching, this plane suddenly plunged to the ground and caught fire killing the pilot and a veteran aerial stunt woman.

CNN's Athena Jones has more.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than a decade, this is how Jane Wicker lived her life. On Saturday in Dayton, Ohio, this is how it tragically ended.


JONES: As planned, her plane turns upside down so she can sit on its wing. Then suddenly, disaster. Wicker and her pilot Charlie Schwenker are killed instantly. The key question, what caused the plane to become so unbalanced during a standard part of her routine?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to ask, ladies and gentlemen, number one, that you turn your kids away from the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrible. I've never seen it happen before. We never expect to see something like that happen. And it's -- it's awful.

JONES: The NTSB is investigating but says it's way too early to know what went wrong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are doing all the data collection right now so we're not going to have any kind of determination on findings or probable cause at this point.

JONES: Fellow performers say flying so close to the ground, there's no room for error.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very focused as wing walkers and have a lot of trust for our pilots, too. You know, we put our faith in as they carry our lives on the wing.

JONES: Wicker's daredevil career began here at the Flying Circus in Virginia.

JANE WICKER, WING WALKER: In 1990, I answered an ad in the newspaper. Said wing walker wanted. No experience necessary.

JONES: Constant danger is always a factor at the air shows. But unlike the 2011 crash in Reno, Nevada, that killed 10 spectators, no onlookers were injured in Dayton. Speaking just a day before the crash, Wicker thought she, too, would be safe.

WICKER: Yes. I'm probably the only person -- one of the few in the world that actually will walk in front of a crowd, along the wings of an airplane as safety one.

JONES: Athena Jones, CNN, Washington.


BERMAN: That's so sad.

A hundred and eight square miles and still growing. Three fires coming together and threatening a popular summer tourist retreat in southern Colorado. The blaze forcing hundreds of visitors and residents of South Fork to evacuate. So far no structures have been lost. No injuries reported yet.

ROMANS: In Arizona, donations pouring in from across the state to help victims of the Doce fire near in Prescott. Crews have made significant progress fighting this fire which began almost a week ago. Most of the people evacuated are now thankfully they are being allowed to return to their homes.

BERMAN: It is the calm after the storm in Minnesota where 5,000 people in the Twin City lost power at the height of some really awful weather this weekend. No one more lucky than this guy who had a close encounter with a big old tree and lived to tell the story.


BRET RADEMACHER, CAR CRASHED BY FALLING TREE: I thought I hit something. But I kind of look up and I see there's a tree in my car. The first thing I thought is, I mean, it's so close. If it had been inches one way or the other, or if I had left maybe a little earlier, I don't -- I mean I don't know what would have happened.


BERMAN: That is crazy. There's a tree in my car. Nearly 100,000 people are still in the dark there this morning.

ROMANS: Indra Petersons is back in the weather for us.

BERMAN: Look at that.

ROMANS: And they had some really crazy weather through there.

PETERSONS: Yes, I want to show you what the radar looks like this. We come in since Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, if you were there this weekend, look at the heavy storms that continue to push through the area. We're really dealing with all this warm, moist air there coming out of the gull and it kind of builds up and you wait more trigger and that trigger did come through this week and you have a lower, cold front anything that takes all the energy and it blows up those storms. So that's what they dealt with over the weekend.

As far as today, we aren't going to see a lot of rain across the country. Nothing really too heavy. We're going to see a stationary front that's going to bring rain day after day. Half an inch up towards the northeast and mid-Atlantic. Maybe about an inch or so towards the southeast. And out towards the west, actually some heavy, unusual rain for this time of year. Now where we have thunderstorms, we're going to see some of the heavier rain.

So we are going to be talking about the Dakotas down through Iowa. And unfortunately the very similar areas that we're going to be dealing with flooding. Then they already had a lot of heavy rain throughout the weekend. So once again we're going to be talking about flooding especially in through Iowa today. So we're going to be watching for that.

Otherwise, the other big story, yes, it's raining but it doesn't mean it's cold. We're talking about hot, humid, rainy weather. But look at the country out here. We're talking about a lot of 90s in the northeast, 80s in the southeast. We know how hot and humid that is. The only place that really seen that cooler weather, again, the pacific northwest where that unusual storm is bringing them some of these cooler temperatures and very well needed rainfall. We're talking about one to two inches out in the Pacific so that's good.

We want to mention yesterday's hurricane season out in the Pacific. We do have a storm brewing out there. The only good news here, not a tropical storm yet. It is expected to build into a hurricane. But I said there was good news. It is going away from the shores so we're not expecting any danger with that one. And it's good news, we don't have anything Atlantic yet, either. Fingers crossed it'll keep that way.

ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

BERMAN: Thank you so much.

All right. Let's take a look at this video. This Texas cop got a lot more than he bargained for while trying to do his job.





BERMAN: That is a monkey snapping at the officer who is trying to hand over an electronic device so the driver can sign a citation. The driver, you know, had -- look at that. That is a crazy monkey in the backseat. The driver had told the officer there was a monkey in the trunk. This money is apparently trained to make appearances at carnivals? The cop --

ROMANS: Did it bite people at carnivals?

BERMAN: I don't think it bit. It just sort of lunged at. The cop says, you know, you're trained to be on guard at all times, but he was not on guard for a monkey.

I don't think the police academy has a "be on the guard for monkey" training course. Look at that.

ROMANS: That's like -- money.

BERMAN: Yes, the monkey is now in custody for questioning.


I made that part up. I don't think that's true.

ROMANS: OK. Coming up, an American soldier long believed to be held captive by the Taliban. Why there's new hope -- new hope this morning that this man may soon be coming home.


ROMANS: An American soldier long believed to be held captive by the Taliban could be the latest pawn in peace negotiations between that group and the U.S. That's giving his family some hope even if right now the chances for talks are falling apart.

Here's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Peace talks that could help bring Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl home appear to be crumbling. The Taliban has said it's willing to exchange the only known captive American soldier for five of its imprisoned leaders. But the Afghan government's anger over the Taliban's newly opened office in the country of Qatar threatens to derail the talks.

SEC. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: You know, it's sort of been stepped back from. Now we need to see if we can get back on track. I don't know whether that's possible or not.

LAVANDERA: Half a world away in a weekend rally in Bowe Bergdahl's honor his father is making a passionate plea for all sides to talk.

ROBERT BERGDAHL, BOWE BERGDAHL'S FATHER: The people of Afghanistan -- may the peace of god and the blessing that come from god be upon you. May we somehow, after 12 long years find peace in Afghanistan so that our soldiers and our American personnel can come home.

LAVANDERA: Yellow ribbons still line the streets of Bowe Bergdahl's hometown of Hailey, Idaho, and "Bring Bowe Home" banners hanging from store fronts show four years of weathered strain.

(On camera): There is reason for hope here in Hailey. There have been very little new information of Bowe Bergdahl's his condition until a few weeks ago when Bergdahl's parents received what they believe is a handwritten letter from their son delivered to them through the Red Cross from the Taliban.

(Voice-over): At this weekend's rally, you could sense his parent's anguish.

BERGDAHL: A father does not leave his son alone on the battlefield. I do not live here, I live in Afghanistan. My cell phone is set on Afghan time. I will not leave you on the battlefield, Bowe. These people here will not leave you on the battlefield. Your country will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten.

LAVANDERA: The Bergdahl sense this is the best chance they've ever had to bring Beau home. They pray this moment doesn't slip away.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Hailey, Idaho.


BERMAN: You've got to feel for that family.

Forty-eight minutes after the hour. Secretary of State John Kerry waking up in New Delhi, in India, this morning. Kerry is pressing India's leaders to cooperate with the U.S. on global warming and climate change before he says it's too late.

India is the second stop on Kerry's two-week swing through Asia and the Middle East. It comes just days before President Obama unveils his long-awaited strategy for dealing with the climate change issue.

ROMANS: The parents of a freelance journalist missing for nearly a year in Syria are on their way to Lebanon now in hopes of finding their son. Austin Tice's last contact with his family in August. He was in Syria to cover the civil war, he was said to be on his way to Lebanon when he was detained. A family spokesman tells CNN they want to find people who can help facilitate his release. It's not clear if Tice is being held captive but the Syrian government has told the family it doesn't know where he is.

BERMAN: A protest expected to pick up again this morning in Brazil. The turnout was significantly down over the weekend compared to the estimated one million protesters Thursday. Demonstrations began more than a week ago against increased transportation fares. But they really quickly morphed into something bigger anger over a variety of issues, corruption or public services. And the cost of staging major sporting events. The world cup schedule to be in Brazil next summer.

ROMANS: Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan taking on his protesters in his own country, defending riot police who fired water cannons at crowds in the capitol over the weekend. They also fired tear gas and clashes in and around the Taksim Square where crowds gathered to remember the three demonstrators and one police officer who died in those protests.

BERMAN: Still no sign of a missing Oklahoma teen a week after he disappeared on a family trip to Ecuador. The 18-year-old August Reiger was hiking with his family last Sunday when he vanished. Now his father says another search on the mountain has not turned up any clues. The family meets today with Ecuadorian officials whose father says he remained baffled by what happened to his son.

ROMANS: A touching tribute for the winner of the Boston marathon. The men's champion returned his medal to the city saying he wanted to honor those who lost their lives in the bombings. Ethiopian runner (INAUDIBLE) says thousands who gathered -- excuse me, sports should never be used as a battleground. A moment of silence held for the three victims killed in the attack.

BERMAN: Slow but steady progress for the Pennsylvania girl who had that life-saving lung transplant. Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan woke up Friday night. She is on a ventilator. She's unable to speak. But her family says she has been responding to questions by shaking her head.

You'll remember Her family went to court and won the right to allow her to be placed on an organ donation list for adults.

ROMANS: Embattled celebrity chef Paula Deen may be losing an endorsement deal. Home shopping network and QVC tells CNN it is re- examining its relationships with Deen. Last week the Food Network announced it will not renew her contract after Deen has minutes using racially insensitive language, Deen has since signs apologized. Her fans have over taken the food network's Facebook page, upset and asking management to reconsider.

BERMAN: All right. It is a true collector's item today. One of the first ever Apple computers goes on the auction block. The Apple One is one of 200 built in 1976. Only a few dozen survived with eight kilobytes of memory which is about a million times less than your smartphone has right now.

But it really is considered the forerunner for everything Apple has done since. The one up for auction was picked up by a school psychologist in California around 1980 and he used it to teach special needs children. It is estimated to may go for upwards of $500,000. Bid an Apple II.

You had a Commodore 64, right?

ROMANS: I did. And I have 2E and I have -- actually in my parent's garage we have several of these things. Nothing, I think, as old and valuable as that.

BERMAN: No, the Apple I is sort of pre-dates their actual sale of, you know, a lot of items.

All right, 52 minutes after the hour. This is a really interesting story, coming up.

Jim Carey pulling support from his latest film. Why he doesn't want his audience to see "Kick Ass II".