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Boston Emerges Strong in World Series; MacNeill Murder Trial;

Aired October 31, 2013 - 05:00   ET


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Pure pandemonium as the Red Sox clinch the World Series title, proving they are truly Boston strong.

We are live inside Fenway Park. We'll tell you all about the celebration overnight and how the Red Sox pulled off this win for the ages.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus a monstrous Halloween storm set to pound the parts of the country. Over 40 million people are in its path. Indra Petersons is tracking where it will hit the hardest.


ALEXIS SOMERS, MARTIN MACNEILL'S DAUGHTER: I went to my father and I said, what happened? Obviously mom is overmedicated.


SAMBOLIN: A doctor accused of murdering his wife with a deadly dose of medication. His daughters now taking the stand to testify against him.

Good morning to you. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. And Mr. John Berman is very excited this morning. He is inside Fenway Park.

BERMAN: Yes, I'm inside Fenway Park, the home of the world champion, Boston Red Sox.


SAMBOLIN: Look, Berman, I got to tell you. Look, I --

BERMAN: The Red Sox. They won the World Series.

SAMBOLIN: I know. I know. And I'm very excited for you. I'm super excited for Boston because they really deserve it. So I have to tell you, I picked the lock to your office this morning and I stole -- can you see? I stole this.

Big Papi now belongs to me so I was wondering, because I know you love this guy very much and he is essential, right, for the Boston Red Sox in order to have won the World Series. Can I open up the box finally and have him sit next to me all morning?

BERMAN: Absolutely not. The value of that just increased exponentially. David Ortiz was the World Series MVP. That man is a legend now in this town. He walked four times last night. They wouldn't even pitch to him. They were so scared of him. No, but it was truly an amazing night here in Boston to be sure. And this city, man, they are feeling Boston strong this morning.

As I said, the Red Sox, they are the world champions for the third time since 2004, knocking off the St. Louis Cardinals. It took six games. The victory last night, it was 6-1, it was pretty, pretty decisive.

Now Boston fans have not seen the Red Sox clinched the World Series at home in Fenway Park since 1918 when they had a guy named Babe Ruth on their team. They're soaking it all in right now. You're seeing relief pitcher Koji Uehara right now celebrating the victory with his teammates.

You know, I mentioned 1918. That was the last time the Red Sox won the World Series, but that's not the date that most people are thinking about in Boston.


BERMAN: What most people are thinking about is April. The Boston marathon bombings. Everything that happened then and that journey from then to now has simply been amazing.


BERMAN (voice-over): Victory at home, at last. Absolute jubilation flooding the streets. Red Sox nation celebrating their team's World Series win against the St. Louis Cardinals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what Boston strong means.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing defines Boston than this moment right here.

BERMAN: The excitement reaching a fever pitch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely amazing game. Red Sox three times in nine years doesn't get better than that.

BERMAN: Down on the diamond, it was run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here comes Gomes. He is safe.

BERMAN: After run.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's gone. Red Sox.

BERMAN: After run.


BERMAN: An absolutely blowout.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hasn't happened at Fenway Park for 95 years. The Red Sox are world champions.

BERMAN: The Red Sox winning it and winning it at home.

The last time the Sox won in the shadow of the green monster was 1918, back when Babe Ruth played for the team. Winning is even stunted by World War 1. This is the third Red Sox title in nine years. But this one is different. This isn't about breaking a curse like in 2004. This isn't even just about baseball.

This team that finished dead last in the American League East last year came to symbolize resilience in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings. It was this team that hung the shirt in their dugout and last night emblazing the same slogan on to their field, Boston strong.

It was this team that broke into small groups and quietly visited the victims of the attack. It was this team that played ball at Fenway Park the day after the city was shutdown in the final manhunt for the bombers. They opened the doors, filled the seats, came from behind and declared with no ambiguity.


BERMAN: This team, this bearded brawny group of bashers, this worst- to-first tragic to magic, a collection of men proved there was prophecy in that profanity from David Ortiz. Now the people of Boston can say in unison, this is our city, this is our team, this is our championship.


BERMAN: Jonny Gomes, one of the players for the Red Sox said, he said, he said, we didn't put the city on our backs. The city put us on their backs. That's how the Red Sox feel about the city of Boston.

I should tell you, you saw there was a great deal of celebrating last night in Boston. It was a strange night to be sober, I have to tell you, on the streets of Boston walking through there. There were nine arrests. This morning, though, coming here, everything looks pretty much done, cleaned up, nothing serious that I've heard about at least so far.

Now I sat in these stands last night for the game all nine innings. It was amazing. A fairly emotional time, I have to say. I think I took it fairly well. There is me right there. That is after they won. I'm liking that moment right there. That's good. I'm singing "Dirty Water" right there, the theme song for the Boston Red Sox.

I was mostly smiles. There were a few moments of tension, not so good like this one.


BERMAN: I had to step out for a moment to compose myself.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: I did compose myself luckily and that was me before the game, before the national anthem. The Dropkick Murphys sang a really stunning "Star Spangled Banner." It was a very, very special moment. Not just for me. For this entire city. And you know what, it was special for the team, too, not just because there was a game, but because of everything that's happened here since April.

And no player on the Red Sox has really done more for this team and for this city since then than David Ortiz. Big Papi. You know, I have the action figure sitting next to Zoraida right now. He was a key, key figure in the recovery for the marathon bombing. He's also the backbone of the team and he was impossible to get out in this World Series.

He won the World Series MVP and Andy Scholes will profile his impact on the team and on the city in our next half hour.

I'll be back then with a lot more of the all-night celebrating. I got to take a brief nap before then. I got to sleep at some point. It's just crazy.

SAMBOLIN: I was going to ask you, have you had any sleep? Because you're awfully lucid this morning. I am shocked.


BERMAN: I had about an hour. I had about an hour. I mean, who needs sleep? Who needs sleep when you have a World Series title?

SAMBOLIN: Absolutely. You're going on adrenaline. Thank you so much. I'm so happy you were there. I was a little worried that sending you there was going to jinx us but -- look at that. You came out Boston strong, dude. Thank you very much. We'll check back in with you.

Seven minutes past the hour. The scariest thing this Halloween might just be the weather. A nasty system is getting ready to strike a big chunk of the country from the Great Lakes to Texas so there is heavy rain, high winds and even possible tornadoes.

Some towns in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, have postponed Halloween until tomorrow. They are saying maybe they are going to celebrate on the weekend.

The severe weather has already soaked Kansas. People in the Wichita area coping with heavy rain, hail, and winds that took down a lot of power lines in that area. And in the high mountain passes near Denver, there's snow. That's a look at Interstate 70. Denver should have a clear, but chilly night for trick-or-treaters.

So you know who's tracking all of this for us? Indra Petersons, she's tracking this crazy monster storm.

What's going on?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, it's going to be pretty impressive here. It's going to continue to make its way all the way east. Affecting a huge chunk of the country. And one of the biggest things we're going to be looking at is heavy rain, the flooding potential and especially some strong winds. You can actually see how big this system is and really how much of the country it is expected to impact as it progresses overnight towards the northeast.

Now currently the heaviest rain has really been falling, has been through Texas. I mean, just take a look at these numbers as we look at flash flood warnings and watches throughout the region.

Now we're talking about many places having seen the heavy rains in short periods of time. And right around Austin, we're seeing places that had almost about six inches of rain overnight. So with that, of course, that will continue to be the concern that we see as it progresses farther off to the east.

Now one of the things that is so unique about the system, why we're so concerned and have that severe weather threat out there, this is a water vapor satellite. It's all the moisture content that's coming out of the south, so there is so much moisture here for that system that brought that heavy snow to blend with, as it makes its way east so that's really going to be a concern here.

We also have the jet stream really lining up here so we're going to be talking about the severe weather threat. Today this shifted a little farther east to the Ohio Valley all the way down through Houston.

I mean, look at all of these major cities that are under the gun tonight on Halloween. So everyone really needs to be aware as winds are going to be a big story. We see some of these winds gusting, you know, as high as 50 to 60 miles per hour even without a thunderstorm so tonight really everyone's eyes need to be open to watch for that.

SAMBOLIN: Wow. Forewarned. Thank you for that, Indra. Appreciate it.

All right. So nine minutes past the hour. For the first time since he became a national political candidate, a majority of Americans now disapprove of President Obama's job performance. The new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll, one that's telling the story here. The president's approval rating sinking to 42 percent. That is an all-time low. And that is down five points just this month alone. 51 percent of Americans now disapprove of the president's job performance matching an all-time high.

So the head of the embattled NSA denying a "Washington Post" report that the agency secretly broke into the overseas servers of Google and Yahoo. General Keith Alexander insisting all information obtained from the two Internet giants was legal and it was ordered by the courts and that it was turned over willingly.

Those claims not sitting too well with Yahoo or Google. A Yahoo spokesman denies the NSA was ever given access to the company's data centers and Google's chief legal officer calls the NSA's actions snooping and says the company will continue beefing up encryption security in order to combat it. Iraq's prime minister is in Washington this morning looking for help to combat al Qaeda. Nuri al-Maliki will meet with President Obama at the White House tomorrow. He'll be asking for weapons, training and manpower to help his country counter a bloody resurgence by the terror organization.

More than 5,000 Iraqis have been killed by al Qaeda attacks since April with 38 suicide bombings in the last month alone.

And a top secret briefing in Washington today on Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with top senators, expected to argue against new U.S. sanctions on that country. The House has already passed new measures but the White House has been encouraged by recent multilateral talks with Iran. Critics say Iran is using the talks as a stalling tactic giving it more time to advance its nuclear program.

And breaking news now. International officials confirming Syria has destroyed all of its declared chemical weapons production and mixing facility. If that is true the Assad regime has met a major deadline.

The organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons says that it has inspected 21 of the 23 chemical weapons sites across Syria with two locations too dangerous for them to visit. And it has satisfied, they say, all of the country's production equipment for chemical weapons has been destroyed.

We're going to continue to follow this developing story.

And Robert Gates is getting ready for a new gig. The former Defense secretary was elected to the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates, a distinguished Eagle Scout, will serve as president-elect and take the reins for a two-year term. That's starting in May. He has credited his longtime involvement with the Boy Scouts with giving him the skills and giving him the courage to succeed.

And Cory Booker will be sworn in as U.S. senator today. The Newark mayor and rising Democratic star becomes the first African-American senator to represent New Jersey. Booker won a landslide victory over his Republican rival. That was earlier this month, with a special election call to fill the seat vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg. Vice President Biden will swear Booker in. That is expected to happen at noon.

And coming up --


SOMERS: She was very sedated and overmedicated when I went in that morning and she said, Lexie, I don't -- I don't know why, but your dad kept giving me medication. He kept giving me things, telling me to swallow.


SAMBOLIN: A doctor accused of killing his wife in order to be with his mistress. Explosive courtroom testimony condemning him. It comes from one of his own daughters.

And a Delta flight forced to make an emergency landing in a remote Alaska town.

Plus, folks, it is time for your morning rhyme. Tweet us with your own original verse. It can be about anything but you're going to get some bonus points today if it is about Halloween. Hash tag #earlystart, hash tag #morningrhyme.

We're going to read the best one on our air. That's going to happen in our next half hour.


SAMBOLIN: Welcome back to EARLY START. It is 17 minutes past the hour. I'm Zoraida Sambolin. And John Berman is going to join us live from Boston a little bit later in the broadcast. He's got to see a World Series win this morning.

But first, we have dramatic testimony at the trial of a Utah doctor, Martin MacNeill. He is accused of killing his wife. Three of MacNeill's daughters took the stand Wednesday telling the court why they believe their dad murdered their mother.

CNN's Jean Casarez is following this trial.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My mom was just wonderful.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One by one, they took the stand.

SOMERS: My mom was my best friend.

CASAREZ: Three sisters testifying against their father, Martin MacNeill accused of murdering his wife so he could share a future with his mistress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who is Martin MacNeill?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he in the court today?

V. MACNEILL: Mm-hmm.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where is he seated, Vanessa?

V. MACNEILL: Right there.

CASAREZ: Vanessa describing for the jury a message she retrieved from her mother's cell phone shortly after her death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you, in fact, tell investigators that your dad told your mom to not go anywhere, to take it easy? V. MACNEILL: Mm-hmm.

SOMERS: My father picked up the phone. He said that your mother is not breathing, she's in the bathtub.

CASAREZ: Daughter Alexis, now a doctor, is convinced her father murdered her mother. Prosecutors say Martin MacNeill forced his wife Michele to have a facelift then plied her with a laundry list of pain killers and depressants.

SOMERS: My dad was telling the plastic surgeon what medication he wanted. I was -- vividly remember this and he told me that he gave her the Arneca, the Valium, the Loritab, the Phenergan, and then gave her two Percocet at 1:30 a.m. and then one Ambien at 1:30 a.m.

CASAREZ: Prosecutors say MacNeill was intentionally poisoning his wife of 30 years so he could marry his mistress Gypsy Willis.

SOMERS: Then she said, Lexie, I don't -- I don't know why, but your dad kept giving me medication. I went to my father and I said, what happened? Obviously, mom is overmedicated. She said she didn't want my dad to give her any more medication. She wanted me to be in charge.

CASAREZ: Alexis was always suspicion of Willis and says her father didn't wait long after her mother's funeral to move his lover into their home.

SOMERS: My dad called me on the phone and said, Alexis, I found the perfect nanny. I said, well, Dad, what's her name? And he started to say, he said -- I said, Dad, Gypsy Jillian Willis? I know that woman. I know mom was worried you're having an affair with her and you're not to bring her into this home.

CASAREZ: On cross-examination defense attorney Randy Spencer tried to show that Alexis was a biased witness against her father and has changed her story over the years.

RANDY SPENCER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Just given new testimony that you haven't given any time before?

SOMERS: No. I just answered these specific questions that I've been asked.

CASAREZ: Anna Walthall, another former mistress of the married doctor, testified how during pillow talk, Martin told her he knew a way to cover up a murder.

ANNA WALTHALL, MARTIN MACNEILL'S FORMER MISTRESS: There's something you can give someone that's natural, that's there after they have a heart attack so that it's not detectable after they have a heart attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So, you can give someone some sort of substance?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's naturally occurring in the body and it would be there after the heart attack but it would also start a heart attack?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so you could cause someone to have a heart attack and the drug would supposed to be there any way so you wouldn't be able to tell?

WALTHALL: That's correct.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, Provo, Utah.


SAMBOLIN: And coming up a teenager's mysterious death inside a school gymnasium. Murder or just a freak accident. New surveillance video released in the case. That's coming up next.


SAMBOLIN: Life in prison on or death. Federal prosecutors in the Boston bombing case, they're expected to make their recommendation to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today on whether to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Lawyers for the marathon bombing suspect had until last week to make their own case against the death penalty. Holder will make the final call.

An announcement is expected today from the U.S. attorney from Georgia investigating the death of a teenager that was found rolled up in a gym mat. This was in January. Newly released surveillance video obtained by CNN shows the 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson, you see him there highlighted, the day that he died at Lowndes County High School.

He was walking in the hallway into the gym and onto the basketball court where others were playing. The footage does not show his death or anything that was leading up to -- you see him walking there on the right-hand side of your screen. A judge Wednesday ordered the video released to Johnson's parents who believe that he was murdered. A state medical examiner ruled the teen suffocated after getting stuck in the mat.

A Delta Airlines flight from Tokyo to San Francisco forced to make an emergency landing in Cold Bay, Alaska. This is Wednesday morning. The Boeing 767 was carrying 167 passengers and 11 crew members when it landed without incident. The crew declaring an in-flight emergency when a warning indicator showed a possible problem with one of the aircraft's engines. The engine automatically shut down but investigators still don't know why that happened.

And check out this dash cam video from Milwaukee. An alleged drunk driver on the run hitting speeds near a hundred miles per hour, crashes into a wall and hits a deputy's car. The deputy was hurt. The driver hauled off to jail. Authorities say he's a repeat offender. Number 1,000 to be arrested for DUI in Milwaukee County since 2010. Lawmakers say Wisconsin needs tougher drunk driving laws.

All right, next, the Boston Red Sox, well, they are on fire clinching the World Series title. Fans partying all night long, including our own John Berman. He is going to have all the highlights of the chaotic celebration.


He's inside Fenway Park. Can you believe it? No sleep and feeling really good this morning.


BERMAN: World Series champs. The biggest turnaround in baseball history. The Boston Red Sox on top. Celebration all night for a city that showed so much strength, so much heart in the last year. We are live right here in Fenway Park. Man, we are feeling Boston strong this morning.