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Crisis In Syria; "Facebook Killer" In Court; Zimmerman's Wife Pleads Guilty; Worms In The Water; "What I Said Was Demeaning To All Women"; Man Gets 30 Days For Raping Teen; U.S. Open Sensation; Valerie Harper Inspires

Aired August 29, 2013 - 07:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. It is Thursday, August 29th. Coming up in the show the suspects involved in that now infamous Florida school bus beating are back in court today, but what will their punishment be? They could get just a slap on the wrist and that is not sitting well with the victim's family. We'll have an exclusive interview with the victim's grandmother coming up.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: In just months after announcing that she does have terminal brain cancer, actress, Valerie Harper is getting ready for the next role. Guess what? She's going to be on "Dancing with the Stars." How great is that? We'll tell you all about it. First, let's get to Michaela for the top news.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, here we go. Here are our headlines at this hour, we begin with Syria, President Obama says there is no doubt the Assad regime used chemical weapons on its own people and that the international community must respond. However no decision has been made on whether that will come in the form of military strike, but the president's words were accompanied by a build up of U.S. military might in the region.

A Florida man accused of murdering his wife and posting a picture of her dead body on Facebook will appear in a Miami courtroom this morning. The 31-year-old Derek Medina will be arraigned on first- degree charges in the fatal shooting of his wife. Police found her body on August 8th inside the couple's South Miami home.

The wife of George Zimmerman is breaking her silence. Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty Wednesday for misdemeanour perjury charges for misleading the judge at her husband's bond hearing, but he was conspicuously absent from court. Now Shellie is speaking out about the relationship saying she feels very much alone, her self-esteem beaten down.

Beating the late summer heat in the town of Colcord, Oklahoma is easier said than done because apparently there are worms in their water supply. This is icky. People are being told not to drink cap water until they get the red worms out of their water supply. One local councilman tells residents it is safe for showering? That's up to you if you want to shower with wormy water but don't drink it.

After 67 years, a World War II veteran has been reunited with a set of dog tags that he lost and wore way back when. The 92-year-old Jahue Mundy spent four years in Marines. He served in Iwajima and Okinawa before going to Japan that's where he lost his dog tags in China, but somehow they ended up back in his home state of Indiana.

A couple got in touch with him after they found them in their backyard. Mundy said he is not going to lose them again. He's given them to his son for safekeeping along with the rest of his World War II memorabilia and treasures including his Purple Heart. There's still a mystery on how it ended up with that couple's backyard. Thank goodness they returned it to them.

CUOMO: Absolutely. Thanks for that, Mick, appreciate it.

Now a story about a Montana judge accused of an injustice. The sentence he gave an admitted rapist, but the comments he made about the teenage victim are considered a slap in the face of all women. We're going to talk to the victim's mother in a moment, but first here's CNN's Miguel Marquez with the story.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This morning outrage growing over the sentence this man, Montana's District Judge G. Todd Baugh handed down to a confessed rapist, just 30 days in jail. Not only is the length of time causing outrage, but it's what the judge said when making his ruling.

JUDGE G. TODD BAUGH, YELLOWSTONE COUNTY, MONTANA COURT: In the Rambo sentencing I made some references to the victim's age and control. I'm not sure just what I was attempting to say at that point, but it didn't come out correct.

MARQUEZ: The sentence for former high school teacher, Stacy Rambold, for breaking his plea agreement in the 2003 rape of 14-year-old Cherice Morales. In handing his sentence, the judge said Morales was in as much control as her then 49-year-old rapist adding that Morales presented herself as older than her chronological age. The judge now under fire for blaming the victim is taking back the words, but he's not changing the sentence.

BAUGH: What I said was demeaning to all women, not what I believe in, and irrelevant to the sentencing. I owe all of our fellow citizens an apology.

MARQUEZ: Morales took her own life just before trial in 2010. She was just 17 years old. The prosecution case fell apart, a plea deal was struck, Rambold's 15-year sentence suspended. He was put on probation but didn't live up to it. Yellowstone County prosecutors want to put him away for 30 years and instead he got 30 days.

Outrage over the sentence taking social media by storm and at least three petitions urging the removal of Judge Baugh are soliciting signatures. This one was started by protesters in Billings, Montana. This afternoon, hundreds of protesters are expected to gather at billings courthouse, they want Judge Baugh to resign and the state's attorney general to get the ruling reversed. The attorney general's office says it's reviewing the case. Miguel Marquez, CNN, Los Angeles.


BOLDUAN: And joining us now is the mother of that teenage girl, Auliea Hanlon is joining me. Thank you so much for being here this morning. I'm so sorry for your loss. You pain must be unimaginable. How are you doing today?


BOLDUAN: I guess that's really the only way to answer it. It must be so difficult to speak out publicly after everything that your family has been through, but that sentence and what happened during sentencing and what the judge said is making you speak out. What was that like?

HANLON: It was horrific, chronological age? Who is he to decide what her? You know that she's older than her chronological age. She was 14. Chronologically, and that's what is relevant.

BOLDUAN: And now you no longer have her with you. I mean, the judge has since apologized for what he said about your daughter, about -- that she seemed older than her age and she was in much control of the situation as her 49-year-old teacher. Does that -- the fact that he apologized, does that make any difference to you now? Does it make it any easier?

HANLON: No. How could she be in control of the situation? He was a teacher. She was a student. She wasn't in control of anything. She was 14.

BOLDUAN: Can you even describe what -- were you even able to comprehend that this was being said about your daughter when she wasn't even there to defend herself?

HANLON: No. I don't know what he was thinking. Who is anybody to judge how old someone is? It doesn't matter how old they act. She was 14.

BOLDUAN: And a victim. This has sparked outrage not only in your community, but far beyond protests are planned today. Will you be attending those protests? Is this something you want to be a part of?

HANLON: I will be at the courthouse today for that protest.

BOLDUAN: Obviously, many folks now are calling on the judge to resign. Would you like him to resign?

HANLON: If he's going to keep handing down sentences like that and making judgments on how old people act and -- yes. He is not wise enough -- I can't say not wise enough, nobody is wise enough to say, oh, you're older than you look or you're older than you are.

BOLDUAN: Could you even say, is there justice? What would justice be for you in this situation at this point?

HANLON: Who knows? I just thought he would go to prison, and he didn't.

BOLDUAN: And now you're left, you and your family have been through so much already. Auliea Hanlon, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with this morning. It goes without saying our thoughts and prayers are with you.

HANLON: All right, thank you for having me and getting the word out.

BOLDUAN: Thank you so much -- Chris.

CUOMO: For the judge's explanation of what he said he still hasn't explained why he didn't change his sentence. That's an important interview to have on the show this morning, Kate. We'll take a break here on NEW DAY. When we come back the latest on Valerie Harper's cancer battle, why the actress isn't just giving up hope, she's looking for her future and planning new roles.

PEREIRA: And coming up we go one on one with this young lady, Victoria Duval, she is riding high after quite an amazing performance, an exuberant celebration at the U.S. Open. She's only 17. We caught up with her to talk about what got her on the court and her experiences growing up in Haiti.


PEREIRA: Appropriate music for this next interview here. Just 17 years old, Victoria Duval has become an overnight sensation at this year's U.S. Open. She was born in Miami, raised in her parents' native Haiti. Victoria first picked up the racquet at age 7 just in order to pass the time at her brother's tennis lessons, but on Tuesday night, she defeated a former U.S. Open champion in the first round. That stunning upset has put Duval who is currently ranked at 296th in the world firmly in the spotlight.


PEREIRA (voice-over): She is the surprise sweetheart of the U.S. Open. But unlike so many of the pros, tennis was not always the dream for Victoria Duval.

VICTORIA DUVAL, TENNIS PLAYER: I wanted to be a ballerina.

PEREIRA (on camera): Who are the tennis players in the family, what happened?


PEREIRA: She was going to be a ballerina, right?

CEDRIC DUVAL, VICTORIA'S BROTHER: Yes, she started off wanting to be a ballerina, but I guess she just wanted to be like us. She wanted to follow in our footsteps.

PEREIRA (voice-over): At just 17 and ranked 296th in the world, she pulled out a stunning upset overcoming 11th seed Samantha Stosur, a former U.S. Open champ. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's done it!

PEREIRA: She won the crowd over with her jubilant celebration and charm.

DUVAL: I'm really excited right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a good feeling. I mean, like eight, ten years watching and waiting for that moment.

NADINE DUVAL, VICTORIA'S MOTHER: This is a dream and this is something, this is a passion. I'm happy for her.

PEREIRA (on camera): Do you remember hearing your family in the stands?

DUVAL: No, because the whole crowd was going nuts. The crowd just blurred them out.

PEREIRA (voice-over): Victoria has overcome the odds before. As a young child she and several family members were held hostage at gunpoint during a robbery in Haiti and then in 2010, her father, Jean Maurice, a physician was in Port-Au-Prince when the earthquake struck, badly injured, he dug himself out of the rubble.

DUVAL: Obviously, you know, we've experienced quite a lot and just having the hard work pay off on such a big stage, I was glad that God gave me that opportunity.

PEREIRA: On the surface you would never know what this family had been through. They are close knit, joyfully celeb celebrating her win. Her brother wearing a shirt with the letters DON.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dreams over nightmares.

PEREIRA (on camera): What does that mean at you?

DUVAL: I look at the dreams part.

PEREIRA: What are your dreams?

DUVAL: To win all grand slams and becoming a major tennis player.

PEREIRA (voice-over): No doubt this team is one step closer to making her dream come true.


PEREIRA: Vicki told me that after that stunning match, after all that exuberance she got a text message from who, tennis legend, Billie Jean, it said "Congratulations, I'm really proud of you." She was really excited getting that text message. She faces Daniela Hantuchova in the second round of play later today. We wish her well. She really is a tremendous young lady and what's really interesting, talking to her coach, he talked about the importance of having that family support and they're all with her in this. BOLDUAN: You almost feel in that moment when she realizes, you feel her sheer, raw joy. It's so cool.

PEREIRA: She's a really great kid with lots of energy and she really has fun out there. That's the other thing that I noticed.

CUOMO: It's an important thing for them to have especially early on. There's all the pressure to push them through the brackets. It doesn't really matter who she takes on next. She's had her moment and anything else is gravy.

PEREIRA: Even her coach said they're concerned about the spotlight and all the pressure at 17, that's a lot to handle, but I argued when you have that kind of family support, it does help buffer it a little bit.

CUOMO: She may have the perspective that it's just a game.

PEREIRA: She told me life is short. She knows that all too well.

CUOMO: They learned it the hard way.

BOLDUAN: Good luck, good luck.

CUOMO: Good for you, Mick.

PEREIRA: It was a fun day.

CUOMO: Going to head back out there and watch a little tennis?

PEREIRA: No, I didn't watch any tennis yesterday but I'll do that today.

BOLDUAN: A little bit of rain.

PEREIRA: Matches were delayed yesterday because of rain.

CUOMO: You gave us sunshine with the story. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, they're back in court, three teenagers accused of a brutal crime caught on camera. What the victim's family is telling us in an exclusive interview and why the teens accused of this beating on a bus may get off with a slap on the wrist.

CUOMO: And then we have this great story about Valerie Harper. We know she has terminal cancer, supposed to only have a few months left, but there's rumors she's making plans to be back on TV this fall. How she is beating the odds, next.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Little bit of a side chat there. Actress Valerie Harper is giving new meaning to the word inspiring. The 74-year-old icon announced in March she has terminal brain cancer. But despite that, she's going strong, rumored to be taking on a huge, new challenge. CNN's Nischelle Turner joins us with more on this. This is good news.

NISCHELLE TURNER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, very, very, very good news, Chris. This is incredible and inspiring and this just says so much about her strength.


TURNER (voice-over): We all remember her as Rhoda on the "Mary Tyler Moore" show. Emmy Award-winning actress, Valerie Harper, revealed to the world in March that she is suffering from terminal brain cancer.

VALERIE HARPER, ACTRESS: At first I thought, three months to live.

TURNER: Harper has defied those odds still going strong and taking on a new challenge. Celebrity news web site TMZ is reporting that Harper will be hitting the ballroom floor in the upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars." The pick stunning many because of Harper's incurable form of cancer she discussed on Piers Morgan.

HARPER: A lot can happen if the cancer gets really aggressive, pressing on parts of the brain.

TURNER: Doctors gave her until June to live, but she has far surpassed that.

HARPER: I just want folks to see me that I'm OK. That I'm not suffering, so far and there may be pain and a lot of things ahead, but whatever they are, they're ahead.

TURNER: At a recent press event for the sitcom "Hot in Cleveland," Harper addressed her prognosis.

HARPER: No doctor in the world can say this is your three months, six months. That's what our experience is, but every case is different.

TURNER: Her commitment to the physically demanding reality show could have the 74-year-old on the dancing floor for weeks, if America votes her through to the finale. Harper's outlook on life and her determination, nothing short of remarkable.

HARPER: Death is out there for all of us and that there are other ways to handle it than just sit on the couch and accept.


BOLDUAN: Phenomenal.

TURNER: Phenomenal. Reps for the show tell us they don't comment on casting rumors and we have reached out to Valerie Harper's representatives for comment as well. TMZ is also saying that the likes of Leah Remini, Elizabeth Berkley and Christina Milian will be competing in this upcoming season. The formal announcement for the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" is September 4th. One of my favorite songs is "I hope you'll dance" that's what I am emoting to Valerie Harper this morning. I hope she dances.

BOLDUAN: We always talk about live your life to the fullest. You rarely see someone living it. If someone gives her the leeway to be sad, depressed, throw in the towel. She is living life every moment that she has.

TURNER: I loved her words when she said, no doctor can tell me what my prognosis is.

PEREIRA: They say that's half the battle, oftentimes. Their outlook really makes a difference.

BOLDUAN: I love it.

CUOMO: I just love her.

TURNER: I know, right.

CUOMO: To me, you know, she'll never be her cancer. She'll always be what she represents on the screen and the energy she brings to her life. I'll vote for her. I'll be one of those crazy robo diallers.

BOLDUAN: And he has two phones.

CUOMO: That Cuomo can't read for anything this morning. He was up last night.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a heart warming reunion. A boy, you remember this story, the poi that was trapped in an Indiana sand dune his family is now saying thank you to the people who saved his life.

CUOMO: We're following the big stories for you. Keeping track of what is going to happen in Syria. President Obama says he's convinced the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people. So what's the action going to be? Will Congress have to vote for it? We're going to cover this from Washington, Beirut, all angles for you.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We do not believe that the opposition could have carried out these attacks. We have concluded that the Syrian government, in fact, carried these out.


CUOMO: Making the case, the president warns of serious consequences for Syria, but will Congress agree on the need for action? If not, will the president go it alone? We're live with the latest.

BOLDUAN: Faring for her life and speaking out against her husband. George Zimmerman's wife is finally talking about their ordeal and why she says her husband has beaten down her self-esteem. PEREIRA: The miracle boy. We hear for the first time from the little boy who was trapped inside that sand dune for hours, his emotional reunion with the rescuers who saved him.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To hear him saying, stop, stop, breaks my heart.



BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY, everyone. It's 8:00 in the east. Thanks for joining us. Syria remains a very big question mark this morning. What will the U.S. do, what can it do and will the international community go along? After the chemical attack the president says was Syria's fault.

CUOMO: Remember the teenagers caught on camera during a brutal school bus beat down in Florida, well, they're back in court today. One question, what will their punishment be? The victim's grandmother is talking to us in an exclusive interview. A lot of questions about that situation.

PEREIRA: And we all love the good stuff, don't we? We've got an update for you on a group of honest shoppers. They thought the store was open and went shopping and realized later it was not, leaving money behind to make up for the mistake. Well, guess what?