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Pirates Kidnap Two Americans; Daughters' Tough Testimony; Overly Emotional Testimony; Brett Favre Admits Memory Loss

Aired October 25, 2013 - 08:30   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Let's get straight over to John Berman, in for Michaela, with the five things to know for your new day.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much.

Number one, fractured relations with some of our closest allies, putting the White House in damage control mode, promising to review surveillance procedures at the NSA, as France and Germany call for talks over spying.

Contractors that helped build the Obamacare website telling Congress they did their jobs but they blame the administration for moving too fast, not leaving enough time for thorough testing.

Five people injured in a carnival ride accident at the North Carolina State Fair. The victims were thrown off the pendulum swing ride called "The Vortex."

Demolition underway at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. It will take a few weeks to complete. Contractors are being asked to remove all of the traces of the building where 20 first graders and six adults were killed last December.

And the World Series all knotted up at a game apiece. The St. Louis Cardinal's captures game two by a 4-2 score thanks to two Boston errors in the seventh inning on the same play that erased a 2-1 Red Sox lead.

We are always updating the five things you need to know, so go to for the latest.


BOLDUAN: All right, thanks, John.

So this morning, a search is on for two Americans kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Nigeria. The captain and chief engineer were working on an oil supply vessel at the time. The Nigerian military is now ordering its Navy to search for them. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been tracking all the latest developments.

Good morning, Barbara. BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kate.

A disturbing and violent attack on these Americans. Publicly, at least, no word on where they are, where they've been taken, not even their names have been made public.


STARR (voice-over): The two American mariners, the captain and chief engineer, were kidnapped off this ship named the Sea Retriever, attacked while traveling off the coast of Nigeria resupplying oil installations. U.S. officials say here in the Gulf of Guinea it was another act of piracy on the high seas.

MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESWOMAN: We are seeking additional information about the incident so that we may contribute to safely resolving this situation. Obviously, our concern at this point is for the safe return of the two U.S. citizens.

STARR: The Sea Retriever is owned by the Louisiana based company Edison Chouest Offshore. A tax against Nigeria's oil facilities, shipping and personnel are rising steadily, 62 last year, an increase from each of the two years before.

CAPT. DAN MARCUS, PRES. INTL. ORG. OF MASTERS, MATES & PILOTS: They're out for anything they can get their hands on. Cargo theft is a large part of it, be it machinery, supplies, be it the actual fuel, be it prisoners that they take ashore and hold ransom, kidnapping essentially. They're looking for money.

STARR: The rise in violence off western Africa is in marked contrast to the decline in attacks off Somalia on the east coast, where the world's attention was riveted in 2009 when Navy SEALs rescued Captain Richard Phillips after he was held by pirates, now a Hollywood thriller starring Tom Hanks.

Since the SEAL sniper team killed Phillips captors, maritime security has significantly improved off Somalia, but off the coast of Nigeria, a different story. Even now, European warships are off the coast, part of an exercise to improve security in this very unsettled oil-rich area.


STARR: And the Nigerian Navy has issued a statement saying it will stage a rescue attempt, but U.S. officials are saying the first thing that has to happen is somebody has to figure out where these men are being held.

Chris. Kate.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Barbara, thank you for the reporting this morning.

Coming up on NEW DAY, an emotional scene in a Utah courtroom Two sisters testify against their own father at his trial for murdering their mother. Our legal experts break it all down for you.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This MacNeill murder case just gets more and more deep to watch. A heart-wrenching scene in a Utah courtroom. The defendant, Dr. Martin MacNeill, stands accused of killing his wife. And taking the stand to testify against him, his daughters, including his oldest, Rachel. Take a listen to testimony.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How close would you describe your relationship with your dad growing up?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And why would you say that?

MACNEILL: Growing up, my father was my best friend. He specifically said to me that he was concerned that there'd be a police investigation. That he didn't want to -- anyone to think that he murdered my mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did at some point you become aware that the relationship between your father and Gypsy Willis was something more than a nanny?

MACNEILL: Yes. It just was obvious that she's - she's just goo eyes at my dad.


CUOMO: I mean, it is something to listen to. The question is, what does it mean in this trial? Let's bring in HLN's Vinnie Politan, host of HLN "After Dark," a former prosecutor. Also joining us, Danny Cevallos, CNN legal analyst, criminal defense attorney.

Fellas, thank you.

Vinnie, I start with you.

To hear a daughter testify, a parent, very compelling. But to jurors, do you think this plays more as they're upset about the affair, about the other woman, or they believe their father killed their mother?

VINNIE POLITAN, HOST, HLN'S "AFTER DARK": Well, that's going to be a challenge here for prosecutors, right, because they don't have the science in this case, so they need these witnesses to be powerful and persuasive. I think once you start putting sister after sister on the witness stand, I think it will come through to this jury that it was much more than just we're mad about an affair. We're mad and we're angry because our mom isn't here and we know that dad is responsible.

And this is rare, Chris. This never happens. Children are usually in denial, even adult children in denial, despite the evidence. But not in this case.

CUOMO: All right, a strong point from Vinnie, Danny, that usually children don't do this, although they are adults, at least the ones who have testified so far. But what are you hearing or what are you not hearing in this testimony from the defense perspective?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you're hearing clearly a daughter, like many other daughters and children, who are not happy about dad with somebody new. In this case, the nanny. And it sounds like a pretty -- a really suspicious relationship.

However, and we have to answer this question as a society, are we going to hold defendants liable when, in the case of a husband, he moves on, marries the cocktail waitress and that looks suspicious because he had a motive at least to commit a crime to make his wife go away.

Look, I mean, unfortunately, it's a sad fact of life. This goes on in America a lot. Husbands look to move on to another wife. And it's a sad part of life. The question is, as a society, are we going to say, well that is such strong evidence of motive, we'll let it overcome the fact that the science just isn't there. Three prosecution M.E.s all agree, cardiac arrhythmia could have caused this death.

CUOMO: All right, so, Vinnie, how do you deal with that? There's all of this salacious detail coming through, but are prosecutors putting together the elements of a crime?

POLITAN: Yes, they are. And here is the thing. What - you -- everyone has to understand, I think the jury will understand this, is that the defendant is a doctor. So he is able to attempt to pull off the perfect crime by manipulating the situation, knowing his wife's medical situation, knowing what pills that she was taking and how vulnerable she was. You have to look at all the circumstances surrounding what happened.

And it's not just a guy moving on. Moving on is, my wife is dead, OK, what's next? No, the whole reason his wife is dead was because of what he wanted to do here with this woman, Gypsy. And that's the message that has to come through to this jury. It's not just, oh, he's moving on. No, no, no, she is the motive. She is the reason. She is part of the whole plan. My goodness, he's fixing up the basement for the room she's going to move into before his wife's even dead.

CUOMO: That doesn't sound good.

CEVALLOS: Of course not. He doesn't sound like a tremendous guy. I mean when it comes to character, he ain't got it. However, his character should not be part of this case. This motive is just repackaged character. Character evidence generally not admissible, but motive is to prove intent. And the prosecution is hammering home motive because that's all they have. And to go -

CUOMO: Well, why is it all they have? Circumstances in the bathtub don't seem to make a lot of sense. An odd laceration on the head. The combination cocktail of drugs. You have the doctor who did the facelift saying, I usually wouldn't give these. I only did it because he's a doctor and he asked me for these types of drugs. What about that (INAUDIBLE)?

CEVALLOS: So many to respond to. Number one, I mean, look, if the doctor -- the prescribing doctor is an independent professional. He could -- he should have -- if he didn't want to prescribe those drugs, he didn't have to. The other thing - and when you say, to use your words, the way she was in the bathtub didn't make sense. Well, when things don't make sense, that's a signal to a defense attorney to hammer home in a closing argument that, look, if it doesn't make sense and has the prosecution really met its murder?

And to go to one last thing Vinnie said, which is this, that if there isn't -- you cannot say in a criminal case -- if the prosecution's chief evidence is that, hey, there is no evidence because he's a guy that knows how to hide evidence -- you see this in police officer defendant cases, too -- then therefore the evidence must be out there. This guy's just really good at hiding it. That's not a very strong case in chief.

CUOMO: Vinnie, that sounds pretty compelling also. So where does the prosecution go putting on Gypsy Willis , the alleged mistress?

POLITAN: Not to -- not to me.

CUOMO: Why not?

POLITAN: Well, they're going to put Gypsy on today and this is again a crucial day. This is the -- this is why it's not so convincing. And you know he's able to fool other medical examiners because he knows what they're going to be looking for, but he's not fooling the rest of the world as to what he's doing.

My goodness, he puts together this staged meeting, chance meeting with this woman who turns out to be a nanny who all along was his mistress before his wife died.

My goodness, he's putting together, fixing up a room for her to move into the house before his wife is even dead. I mean, the things that he is doing everything in his life is all centered around and focused on being able to get Gypsy into his house and the only way he can do it is his wife is out of the house.

She wanted to put off the plastic surgery. He pushed it forward. His daughter wanted her to push it off. He pushed forward. His daughter wanted to be next to her to take care of her during the summer but he said no, we have to do the plastic surgery now.

Danny, have you ever heard of anything called emergency plastic surgery? No. No, it doesn't exist, Danny. It was the doctor's crazy plan and he got caught.

CUOMO: Hold on. Vinnie, leave it there. You're using a lot of "my goodnesses" today. I know where you're going when you use a lot of my goodnesses. I appreciate the analysis from of you guys. We're going to leave it there because we have another big day of testimony. The alleged mistress, Gypsy Willis on the stand today -- we'll unpack it for you obviously after the testimony is brought in.

Thank you to Danny Cevallos and Vinnie Politan as always. Kate over to you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up on NEW DAY a sad revelation from former NFL quarterback Brett Favre, his new fear since leaving the game. Rachel Nichols is here to talk about it.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY everyone.

After 20 years in the NFL, retired quarterback Brett Favre is making a really stunning revelation, he fears that he is losing his memory and can't remember one part of his daughter's childhood. What has been, what has the toll -- what has the toll been on this player as well as many others, after countless concussions?

Let's bring in Rachel Nichols, to talk more about this; the host of "Unguarded with Rachel Nichols" which is premiering tonight. We want to talk about the show in a little bit. But first what we're hearing from Brett Favre for the first time and he's nervous that this is having a lasting impact.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST: This is very frightening especially for a guy like Brett Favre who had that mentality for so many years, right, slap a Band-Aid on it and get back out on the field. This is a guy who was football's ironman, played in more than 300 games and he was a guy who had so many concussions he can't even remember how many he had. It was a concussion that ended his career; he hasn't played since he got slammed against the Chicago Bears.

And now the bill is coming due and that is a very scary proposition for a lot of guys who have a lot of former elite players who are just starting to realize the cost of the game that they loved.

CUOMO: So what do we do? Because we keep hearing the stories, you tell them very eloquently, you usually get them before anybody else, but so what do we do with this information?

NICHOLS: Well, they are trying to make the game safer, but the ultimate question is going to be, can you do that? Is there a point where football is a violent sport and by its nature is our lust for the way the game is going to be going to ever be compatible with keeping these guys safe after their career, letting them play with their children? Or will we have to wrap everyone in cotton balls so much that we wouldn't be able to have an NFL anymore in the way that we want to?

The NFL is a big business, its billions and billions of dollars. It is our most popular sport in this country and yet there are some very serious questions about the safety of the people who play it.

BOLDUAN: And this is definitely one of the topics that you'll be taking on in "UNGUARDED" it's premiering tonight. So what can we expect tonight? NICHOLS: What we're going to be talking about issues like this, things that extended beyond the field, we like to say the end of the game is just the start of the story and that is certainly true when we talk about Brett Favre.

CUOMO: That's good -- the end of the game is just the start of the story. I'm jealous. That's good.

NICHOLS: It's good, it's this you know.

BOLDUAN: Let's do it.

CUOMO: I had all the concussions.

NICHOLS: If you weren't -- if you weren't waking up at 3:00 in the morning you could think about catchy phrases like that but we'll move on.

We definitely want to talk about the issues beyond the field, the issues that extend and the way sports touch all of our lives and then we're also going to be talking to some big named athletes, were going to be finding out what it is like to be what has now become in our culture some of the biggest celebrities around and sort of their more human side and also just talk to them about the issues that are the same for them as they are for us.

On our first show tonight I actually went to China with Lebron James.


NICHOLS: He takes this trip every year, it is this absolute insane bedlam. And he's never invited cameras along before so this is a very exclusive all access look at the crazy scene that we see with him. And yet for all of the insanity, for all of the people screaming and cheering he is a dad away on a business trip half way around the world, and he has some very -- very touching moments where he talks to me about missing his kids, screwing up the time difference and annoying his wife by calling her at 2:00 in the morning, trying to figure out how adventurous he wants to be with food and he's the kid from Akron, Ohio who said that he really never believed growing up that he would get outside of his state.

He was amazed when he went to a basketball tournament when he was a freshman. That people know who he was, he couldn't believe it people know who I am 120 miles away? Well now people know who he is 8,000 miles away and him being so candid about that experience is really charming.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He talked about the future at all, he talk about this season and how important a third, fourth, fifth, sixth championship could be to him and also where he might play?

NICHOLS: Well that is the big question with Lebron James, right what is going to happen when he has an option to leave the Miami Heat at the end of the season. And what he said a few times and I thought he said really well in an interview he did with us here at CNN at the end of the NBA finals was that he actually wants to see how this season plays out. He wants to know how his team is going to do, he wants to know what they would have going forward.

It makes sense. We just all want an answer now. But he's actually taking the smarter and more conservative approach.

BOLDUAN: OK, Rachel no, no vested interest in this, who is going to win the World Series?

NICHOLS: It's not like you guys have a little competition going on or anything.

BOLDUAN: I'm just looking out for John Berman.

NICHOLS: Well it was so much fun last night right to see it get a little bit more even and competitive. It looked for a while we were going to end up going back to St. Louis with the Red Sox taking a 2-0 advantage. I know there's a lot of people who would have loved to have seen that but for those of us who are just baseball fans and love to see competition the idea of it being 1-1, everybody is just scratching and clawing all in it's exciting.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. I just want it to be a good series, exactly.

NICHOLS: Except for John Berman.

BOLDUAN: Except for John Berman.

BERMAN: I think it's going to be great baseball.

NICHOLS: There you go.

CUOMO: He lied. But go ahead.

BOLDUAN: He lied. Thank you so much Rachel.

NICHOLS: Thanks guys.

BOLDUAN: Be sure to catch Rachel's new show "UNGUARDED WITH RACHEL NICHOLS" kicking off tonight at 10:30 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

CUOMO: We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


CUOMO: Thank you for watching NEW DAY. Have a great weekend.

But before you really start it, you have to be with Carol Costello and get all the news in the "NEWSROOM". Carol, take it away and have a great weekend my friend.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, that's absolutely true. Thank you, Chris, Kate, thank you. Who is that over there, John Berman, thanks so much. I have a tiny, little monitor. Have a great weekend.

CUOMO: Josh Berman. COSTELLO: I said John.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Carol.

COSTELLO: See you later. "NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", breaking overnight, state fair tragedy --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (inaudible) told me that the ride had stopped and they were fixing to off-load when the ride started off again.


COSTELLO: Five people rushed to the hospital, some victims as young as 14.

Plus, back to school, Danvers doors reopened.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know why someone would do this to someone so nice.


COSTELLO: A Massachusetts town searching for answers after the unthinkable.