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Student Kills Teacher with Box Cutter; Republicans Attack at Obamacare Hearings; Daughters Testify Against Utah Doctor; Nevada School Shooting Survivor Speaks

Aired October 24, 2013 - 14:00   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to Fenway Park. Last night, the Red Sox won big here. But tonight, find out why they will not be the biggest heroes in Boston on this field.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

The weapon used to kill a math teacher revealed. But what's the motive?

Look closely. The man in the middle of this teenage house party is Maryland's attorney general. And what's in those kids' cups? And why didn't he ask?

Plus, lawmakers grill the folks in charge of the Obamacare website.


REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The American public have been dumped with the ultimate cash for clunkers, except they had to pay the cash and still got the clunker.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you were in a bathtub for 25 years, don't you think you'd get a little psychotic?


BALDWIN: And are killer whales at Sea World psychotic? Both sides debate tonight's premiere of CNN's "Blackfish."

And here we go. Thank you so much for joining me. I am live in a very blustery Boston right now, right here at Fenway Ballpark, right at the corner of Van Ness and Yawkey Way. And we are now, if you just think about the chronology of the last couple of months, six months since the terrorist attack. And tonight, this city is in the spotlight again. But this time it is very, very different because the Red Sox are on the big stage playing in the World Series, game two, just a couple of hours from now.

And, of course, this city will remember and will celebrate life right here inside this ballpark. So live in the next two hours, I will speak with several of those bombing survivors, some of the rescuers who were all carrying on, and I'll also chat with James Taylor, who is giving fans a special, special surprise tonight. So we have some of the secrets. The Red Sox are letting us tell you. So stay with me here live in Boston.

But I want to start this show with the story actually not too far from where I'm standing. A young teacher murdered with a box cutter. Her accused killer, a student. Philip Chism, just 14 years of age, new to Danvers High School in Massachusetts. A source close to the investigation tells CNN that Chism brought these box cutters with him to school. His teacher and his alleged murder victim is this woman, Colleen Ritzer. Her best friend tells CNN she was killed while living her life-long dream to be a math teacher.


JEN BERGER, RITZER'S BEST FRIEND: She would just smile and the entire room would light up. She was talking about how this year was such a good year. She was teaching freshman for the first time and she loved that they seemed so enthusiastic. And she was just happy.

I don't know what the world's like without her. It's a scary, scary thought. I just hope that she knew how much she was loved by everyone else in her life because she really had an impact on all of us. My life is so much better because she was my friend.


BALDWIN: I want to take you straight to Danvers, to Don Lemon, who is there live.

And, Don, what are police saying about how this young woman, 24 years of age, how she was murdered? And what Chism did after allegedly killing her?

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing a lot from sources, Brooke, about 22 miles north of where you are here, and you're in Boston, we're in Danvers. And there is a high school behind us. Really quiet today. And I want you to imagine this, Brooke, and the audience.

According to our sources, about an hour and a half past now is when that teacher lost her life two days ago, 3:30 in the afternoon, according to sources. She wanted to go to the restroom. The faculty restroom was locked. So she goes to the restroom on the second floor, a student restroom, and the security cameras in this school show the suspect, Philip Chism, going into the restroom. And then the next thing you know, it shows the suspect coming out of the restroom with a recycle bin that her body is believed to be inside. And then he dumps the body into the woods behind the athletic fields about 20 feet into the woods.

As you said, Brooke, the sources say he used a box cutter. He also hit her. And then once he got rid of her body in the woods, he took the recycle bin 100 feet away and threw the recycle bin over an embankment, went to the Wendy's to get some food, went to a movie and then changed clothes and they found him in a neighboring town, police did.

BALDWIN: And this young man, he is 14 years of age. We saw pictures, Don, of him being arraigned in that courtroom just yesterday. Do we know exactly how he's being charged?

LEMON: He's being charged, Brooke, as an adult. He's facing a murder charge as an adult. The prosecutor here, the district attorney, they're seeking to try him as an adult as well. That's going to be up to a grand jury. They want to convene a grand jury. And the grand jury has not been assembled yet.

And once you're 14 here, if he had even been 13, Brooke, he would probably have been charged as a juvenile. But when you're 14 and over in this state, you are charged as an adult. But we don't know if he's going to be tried as an adult. That's what they would like. And so he faces a murder charge now. He is now apparently cooperating with investigators. And that autopsy for -- sadly for the teacher being held today, possibly as we speak now.

BALDWIN: So incredibly sad.


BALDWIN: Don Lemon for us in Danvers, Massachusetts. Don, I appreciate it very much.

Coming up here, talk about fireworks, lawmakers, grilling the contractors in charge of the website Obamacare. And things got heated.


REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: $500 million later, we find the American public have been dumped with the ultimate cash for clunkers.


BALDWIN: So what is the issue with this website? We'll tell you what contractors are saying. And here's a little hint for you, it's not them. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN's special live coverage live from Fenway Park ahead of game two in the World Series right here in Boston.


BALDWIN: President Obama putting immigration reform back in the spotlight. The president, just a couple of hours ago, called on a deeply divided Congress to rewrite U.S. immigration policy, and he stressed creating a path to citizenship for some 11 million immigrants currently living in the United States illegally.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's good for our economy. It's good for our national security. It's good for our people. And we should do it this year. Everybody knows that our current immigration system is broken. Across the political spectrum, people understand that. It doesn't get easier to just put it off. Let's do it now. Let's not delay. Let's get this done. And let's do it in a bipartisan fashion.


BALDWIN: That was the president, as you know, the U.S. Senate, Democrats control it, they passed an immigration overhaul back in June, but it has been blocked by Republicans on the House side.

Take a look at this with me. This is a new poll by CBS News. And what it does is it shows most Americans support a conditional path to citizenship. But people think securing the border is a higher priority than resolving undocumented immigrants' status.

Also in Washington today, tech firms behind the Obamacare website defended the parts they built for this system. But at a hearing, a heated hearing might I add on Capitol Hill today, they said the complex project as a whole needed much more testing before its launch back the 1st of October. None was willing to say when the notorious glitches will disappear for good and so that is the tech part of the story.

But as we know, a lot of politics at play here as well. Republicans wanted to know who is to blame for the failure within the Obama administration. As for the Democrats, they expressed amusement at Republicans' concerns about a website that drives a program they have time and time again tried to destroy. Here's a bit of that.


REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: $500 million later, we find the American public have been dumped with the ultimate cash for clunkers, except they had to pay the cash and still got the clunker.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: The Affordable Care Act is an enormous success, with one obvious exception, it has a poorly designed website.

REP. FRED UPTON (R), ENERGY AND COMMERCE CHAIRMAN: This is more than a website problem. And, frankly, the website should have been the easy part. I'm also concerned about what happens next. Will enrollment glitches become provider payment glitches? Will patients show up at their doctor's office or hospital to be told that maybe they aren't covered or even in the system?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D), NEW YORK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You know, it amazes me how our Republican colleagues are so concerned about the Affordable Health Care Act since they tried to defund it, they tried to kill it, they shut down the government because of it. Do you think there's maybe a little bit of politics here?

REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: We now have to better piece together the timeline of problems and figure out who knew what and when did they know it.

REP. FRANK PALLONE (R), NEW JERSEY: I would just ask my Republicans, let the goal here be to fix it, not nix it. And if that were you goal, I'd feel very good about this hearing, but I don't see that happening.


BALDWIN: So you get it, that is just a sampling, some of the back and forth. And a lot of talk as well today about a last-minute decision to force consumers to register as a prelude to shopping for health insurance at Our senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, joins me now.

And, Elizabeth, a couple questions for you. First, how did that last- minute decision really contribute to, you know, what do you want to call it, a mess at

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A mess, I think that's certainly a word I've heard many people use, Brooke, not just you.

Let's first talk about the decision. So several states, Colorado, New York, Kansas, what they decided to do was to let people window shop. You just had to put in just a little bit of information -- your age, what county you lived in, just a little bit of information and you could look at various policies that might be available to you and how much they would cost, and then you go through the registration process, which takes some time. There's a lot you have to do in that process.

The federal government made a decision to do it the opposite way. They said, first you have to get a log in and you have to register. We have to verify your identity, there's a lot of steps, and then we will show you the policies. That was the decision that they made before October 1st.


COHEN: And it slows things down. So when your -- this is how it works in some other places. That slows things down because you have all these people coming in, rushing to give all this information, that slows the site down, according to many experts we've talked to.

BALDWIN: But then why make this decision? Do you even know? Why make the decision to make people register right away because, you well know, Elizabeth, this has been a huge part of the problem, just, you know, getting to and past step one here.

COHEN: Exactly. So some Republicans think that the federal government chose to make this decision so that people wouldn't see prices quite so easily and they wouldn't freak out when they saw that some of their prices were going up. We talked to a federal official who said, look, that's ridiculous. We gave some sample prices. We're not trying to hide anything from anyone.

What they said is they were up against a deadline and they had to prioritize. Did they want to put their sort of time and effort into the registration process or did they want to put their time and effort into developing a window-shopping system. Now you could ask, why were they up against such a crush? I mean other places like, you know, several states managed to do both. Why were they up against such a crush? Why did they have to prioritize that way when several states managed to do both?

BALDWIN: Elizabeth Cohen, a lot of good questions. I appreciate you very much talking about that here.

And I want to move along because we are just getting word here at CNN of an incident. This is what the U.S. Navy is calling it. They're confirming an incident near a Naval support activity mid-south (ph) in Millington. This is according to the U.S. Navy Twitter account. More details after this short break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: All right, breaking news just into us here at CNN. We are learning there has been an incident and we can be more specific for you know. We are learning - this is according to our sources -- there has been a shooting near a Navy base in Tennessee. Specifically here, as you look at this map, and we're trying to hone in exactly where this happened. Obvious question, how many people were involved? Who has a gun? When exactly this happened?

But we can tell you that this base, this Naval support activity base in Millington, Tennessee, is on lockdown as I speak. And we're learning this initially from the U.S. Navy Twitter account and trying to make phone calls, trying to get more information from our sources here at the Pentagon. This is the tweet that we've been reading from the U.S. Navy. So as soon as we get more information as far as what exactly is happening near this base in Tennessee, we'll pass it along to you here live on CNN.

Going to move along and take you to Utah now, to the trial of a doctor there who allegedly murdered his wife to be with his mistress, stole his adopted daughter's identity for the woman, and whose own children are now the prosecution's key witnesses. Jurors weren't present for much of the morning here in the murder trial of Martin MacNeill. The judge is trying to determine if MacNeill's 12-year-old daughter will take the stand. Keep in mind, this happened six years ago, so she was all of six years old when she found the body of her mother, Michele MacNeill, lying in the bathtub. We can tell you that jurors are back in the courtroom as testimony is resuming in this trial, and they saw just how much pain this case has caused this family. Within moments of this daughter taking the stand, just watch, watch Rachel MacNeill's face, this is earlier this afternoon.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the record would reflect the identification of the defendant, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please stipulate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The record will so reflect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I could approach the witness?



BALDWIN: Jane Velez-Mitchell from our sister network HLN joins me now live.

And, Jane, what is Rachel MacNeill telling the jurors today?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL": This is, Brooke, devastating for the defense. This young woman takes the stand. She is the daughter of the defendant. She is the daughter of the victim. She is clearly shattered by this horror. And she is convulsing and sobbing. At one point, they have to give her a break because she just is literally sobbing so much as she tries to testify. You can see in her face that this is just a nightmare for her, and then she delivers one knockout punch after the other against the defense, really describing extremely incriminating, extremely suspicious behavior on the part of her father, the defendant, from the very moment that she learns her mother was found in the bathtub unresponsive and has died.

She says, first of all, her dad says, well, we have to have a police investigation because I don't want to think -- anybody to think that I murdered your mother. And she goes, what are you talking about? Why would anybody think that you murdered your wife? And then it goes on and on. How he's adamant about demonstrating his version of events to her. And goes into the tub and actually puts his body in the tub to try to demonstrate his version of events. And she's absolutely incredulous, like why are you doing this? Almost as if he's putting on a case. It all boils down to doth protest too loudly, as Shakespeare would say.

Then you bring in the mistress angle. Very soon after the death of his wife, he takes his family to a Mormon temple and says we have to, you know, pray about a new nanny. And then this woman mysteriously shows up and starts making small talk with Rachel, the adult daughter, and she's like, I don't want to talk to you. My mother's just died. She says, oh, you know, I understand that you want to be a nurse and I can help you out with that and sort of trying to ingratiate herself. And Rachel's horrified.

And then this woman moves in as the nanny. But then Rachel testifies, it's clear she's making goo goo eyes at her father. It's clear they're having an affair. She's not really a nanny. I mean it's one slam dunk after the other. For a prosecution that I thought was kind of wobbling a little bit, an ace in the hole.

BALDWIN: Wow. Let me ask you about the -- another daughter here, Alexis Summers. Another daughter of the MacNeills. You know, she took the stand. She was the one who actually heard her mother express fears that her husband may harm her, is that right? VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Unfortunately, she's not going to be able to stay that to the jurors, but she did testify outside the jury's presence today in an effort by the prosecution to get little Ada on the stand. Little Ada is the one who walked in and first saw Michele, her adoptive mom, turns out be her biological grandmother, but that's an entire other story. She sees her in the tub. And little Ada's version of how the mother was positioned is completely different from Dr. MacNeill's, of course, leading to the implication, did he alter and stage the crime scene before anybody else showed up?

So they want, the prosecution, to allow Ada to take the stand and say what she remembers from six years ago. She's now 12. The defense says, well, she's been living with the adult daughter, Alexis, who has poisoned her mind, and who has coached her. Now, Alexis, today, said, absolutely I did not coach Ada. I have not tried to influence her about what she remembered on that horrible day. I just asked her what do you recall?

BALDWIN: Wow. Drama in a Provo, Utah, courtroom. Jane Velez-Mitchell, we're following it right along with you. We appreciate that.

Coming up, we're going to get you some more information on our breaking news here as there's been a shooting outside of a Naval base, or I should be more specific and just say near a Naval base. We're working to get more information here in Millington, Tennessee. Back with the breaking story right after this quick break.