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Democrats on Edge over Obamacare; Martin MacNeill Murder Trial; Kevin Ware Back in Court

Aired November 7, 2013 - 05:00   ET


ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: Taking it to Texas. President Obama hits Republicans who oppose his signature health care law in -- in the Long Horn state and he's making a new promise. What you need to know this morning.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Chris Christie's sweeping victory Tuesday night has landed him another new title. Is it a role that will jet set him towards 2016? We're going to explain that.

SAMBOLIN: And new video in the tragic case of the Georgia high school student found dead, rolled up in a gym mat. Will this teen's final moment captured on video help finally crack this case?

LEMON: What a mystery. Still more questions than answers in that.

SAMBOLIN: Terrible.

LEMON: Welcome, everyone. Good morning to you.

SAMBOLIN: Good morning to you. It's so nice to have you with us.


LEMON: It's great to be here on EARLY START. I'm Don Lemon in today for John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Thursday, November 7th, today's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

So up first here. Democrats stressing out over the Obamacare fiasco. More than a dozen Senate Democrats facing off with the president urging him to get the exchange system up and running and to do this swiftly.

They are getting real nervous about the political fallout here and they should be. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius telling the Senate Finance Committee needs hundreds of fixes.

We're going to get more from senior White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it is wonderful to see all of you.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Texas, not exactly friendly territory for Obamacare. But that's where President Obama went to criticize Republican opposition to his signature health care reform program and promise its faulty Web site will soon be up and running.

OBAMA: We are working overtime to get this fixed. And the Web site is already better than it was at the beginning of October. And by the end of this month, we anticipate that it is going to be working the way it is supposed to.

KEILAR: Back in the hot seat again, embattled Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before a Senate committee conceding not many people have signed up.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HHS SECRETARY: Early enrollment numbers are going to be very low.

KEILAR: Republicans questioned the security of and the screening of so-called navigators who help people enroll.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them.

SEBELIUS: That is possible. We have contracts with the organizations and they have taken the responsibility to screen their individual navigators and make sure that they are sufficiently trained for the job.

KEILAR: But it was this.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONTANA: Why not sit down and do it right?

KEILAR: Criticism from Chairman Max Baucus who voted for Obamacare that may have stung the most.

For congressional Democrats facing re-election next year, Obamacare has become a political liability. President Obama invited 15 of them to the White House Wednesday afternoon to address their concerns.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the messy rollout seeing its first casualty. The chief information officer for the agency running the troubled Web site has resigned.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Washington.


LEMON: All right, Brianna. Thank you very much.

After a landslide victory in Tuesday's election, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is preparing to rack up the frequent flyer miles. He is taking over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. It is a powerful position that will have him canvassing the country in 2014, supporting Republican candidates running for governor in three dozen states. And as one Republican strategist puts it, Christie gets to run for president before he officially runs for president.

SAMBOLIN: The chances are, Joe Pollino will never run for president. He's still having trouble wrapping his head around the fact that he is the new mayor of Marvin, North Dakota, even though he didn't officially run. The stay-at-home dad was a write-in candidate and he wound up the winner. Why? Because the other two candidates suddenly dropped out of the race without any explanation.


JOE POLLINO, NEW MAYOR OF MARVIN, NORTH DAKOTA: Certainly not prepared. This is the first time for me ever dipping my toe in the political world and it's exciting. Again, still humbling.


SAMBOLIN: You know, it's a lovely little town right near Charlotte. Mayor Pollino says he wants Marvin to remain its small town charm so his first priority will be to keep the big box store retailers out.

LEMON: Mayor Pollino, you better get used to it.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, why --


LEMON: And fast.

Vice President Joe Biden offering congratulations to the wrong Marty Walsh after the Boston mayoral race Tuesday night. Biden accidentally called Marty Walsh a former aide to Senator Edward Kennedy and said Marty Walsh the Massachusetts lawmaker who just became the new mayor of Boston. And the vice president is not the only one to dial a wrong number in this one. The mayor of Minneapolis and Debbie Wassermann Schultz, the chairwoman of the DNC, also called the former Kennedy aide to mistakenly congratulate him.

But I guess congratulations, you know, we'll take it any time.

SAMBOLIN: It's like, really, really? I won something?


Can you imagine that phone call?

All right. So more fallout from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's shocking confession that he smoked crack last year. He said it was a drunken stupor. Ford's longtime policy adviser has just resigned and his own deputy mayor is publicly pleading with him to take a leave of absence.

The mayor simply will not hear of it. Ford returned to work yesterday even conducting a tour of city hall for a group of school children while 200 protesters, as you're seeing there, were right outside the building calling on him to resign. LEMON: National security officials are set to discuss separating the leadership of two major Defense entities. The NSA and U.S. Cybercommand are both overseen by General Keith Alexander who is set to retire in March. Now officials are said to prefer structure that avoids a concentration of power. The NSA leads the nation's spy activities, Cybercommand conducts military attacks.

SAMBOLIN: Two people have been killed and as many as eight others wounded in a shooting at a Detroit strip mall. The gunfire erupted last night at a barber shop on the city's east side. That's an area that is known for illegal gambling activity. Police investigators are looking for two cars they say were following each other and shooting back and forth before shots were fired into that barber shop.

LEMON: More questions being raised after new video obtained by CNN shows a Georgia high school student moments before he was found dead in a rolled-up gym mat. One angle shows Kendrick Johnson in the gum where he died. Another shows a mysterious person walking toward the mat where Johnson's body was found. Johnson's family believed the 17- year-old was murdered and someone tried to cover up the evidence.

SAMBOLIN: The video is so blurry.


SAMBOLIN: Difficult to really tell who that is exactly.

LEMON: But it's believed a video expert might be able to get --

SAMBOLIN: Come up with something?

LEMON: -- some hands -- yes, and get more out of it.

SAMBOLIN: I certainly hope so for that family.


SAMBOLIN: So some red flags being raised about a CBS report on Benghazi. A private contractor named Morgan Jones told "60 Minutes" that he repeatedly warned of security risks at the U.S. compound. He also claims he saw Ambassador Christopher Stevens' body at the hospital and that he actually went back to the U.S. compound and attacked a militant, but an incident report says Jones never went back to -- or never went to the hospital or back to the compound.

Jones is standing by his story and CBS officials say they are confident that their sources are accurate.

LEMON: Nuclear talks with Iran resuming in Geneva today. Negotiations from -- negotiators from the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany, all on hand. The White House is reportedly prepared to offer the Iranians limited relief from crippling economic sanctions if they agree to temporarily halt their nuclear program for a period of six months.

So this weather, crazy weather. SAMBOLIN: It's balmy this morning, right?

LEMON: I know but it's driving me crazy. I don't -- you know.

SAMBOLIN: Your allergies are really acting up. He is having a hard time talking this morning.

That's disgusting.


Let's go to Karen Maginnis. She's in the CNN weather --

LEMON: That is the reality of it, though, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I know, Don, it's the same for me as well. We woke up the last several mornings and it was very cold but fairly mild this morning. The temperature hovering in the upper 50s. So a very mild day, but that's the mild air that was coming up from the south ahead of the frontal system and now it looks a little more interesting.

Frontal system is going to move through and with it here comes the rainfall. It isn't just the rain. It's going to be the blustery conditions that will be associated with that as well.

Well, the rainfall, for the most part, is back across the eastern Great Lakes and across interior sections of New England. Eventually, and I do mean in the next few hours, four to sick hours, we'll start to see the rainfall pick up in places like New York and Boston and Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

In the meantime, across the Midwest, temperatures between 5 and 10 degrees below where they should be and then by Friday, for New York and Washington, D.C. and Boston, those temperatures are going to be way below normal.

And guess what, don? Coming up by Monday, it looks like we'll see some of the coldest air that we have seen so far this season. It's going to be --

SAMBOLIN: Allergies to be gone.

MAGINNIS: Well, hopefully yes. For all of us because it's been fairly miserable the last week or so anyway.

LEMON: I'll still take it warm, though.

SAMBOLIN: Even though you're miserable?


Enough of that. Thank you, Karen. We'll check back in with you.

MAGINNIS: All right, see you. SAMBOLIN: All right. A floating data center, a high society event space? Speculation was running wild over that mystery barge in the San Francisco bay, revealed to be owned by Google. Government inspectors were sworn to secrecy. The police said it's not their problem and the mayor said that he had no clue. Wednesday, Google solved the mystery finally. It's an interactive space where people can learn about technology.

So does that mean a showroom for Google Glass?

LEMON: On a barge?

SAMBOLIN: Apparently. You have to travel to go see it.


SAMBOLIN: That's a big, big barge.


Kind of cool.


SAMBOLIN: But at least the mystery is kind of solved until somebody gets on there and figures out exactly what it is.

LEMON: I want to know why it's on a barge, though. That's the mystery.

Coming up, though, a third Oklahoma teenage now facing felony murder charges for the shooting death of a college baseball player from Australia.

SAMBOLIN: And bombshell testimony in the murder trial of Utah doctor charged with poisoning and drowning his wife.

Plus, folks, it is time for your morning rhymes. Tweet us with your own original verse that can be about anything including Don Lemon. Hash tag earlystart, hash tag morningrhyme. We're going to read the best ones on the air in our next half hour.

LEMON: Time for your morning rhyme, any time. Send it in, the morning rhyme.


LEMON: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Don Lemon.

New this morning. A development in the case against three teens accused of killing an Australian baseball player allegedly because they were bored. Prosecutors have upgraded the charges against one suspect. 17-year-old Michael Jones, he will now be charged as an adult with felony first-degree murder, the same as the other two suspects. Prosecutors claim Jones drove the get-away car.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You just heard those allegations against your son. And do you have anything to say?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there anything you want to say about your son, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to say no more.


LEMON: The victim, 23-year-old Christopher Lane was jogging back in August when he was gunned down.

SAMBOLIN: Outrage in the Motor City after a 19-year-old woman was shot to death. She was seeking help from a stranger in the middle of the night. A large turnout at a vigil last night for Renisha McBride. She was killed Saturday, this was in Dearborn Heights. Her family and their supporters say she was looking for help at a stranger's home after getting into a car accident. She wound up getting shot in the head and killed. They are calling it a case of racial profiling.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just had a murder of a young woman by mistake. And we would hope that somebody could go to somebody's door at 4:00 in the morning and seek help and not end up dying and leaving their family grieving.


SAMBOLIN: Police have not publicly identified or arrested the homeowner who shot McBride.

LEMON: Such an awful story.

SAMBOLIN: Tragedy.


A 24-year-old Texas woman arrested Wednesday after police say she deliberately ran over her boyfriend. Natalie Kirkendoll is charged with aggravated assault. Upon impact, the victim was thrown into another vehicle. Dustin Schloesser suffered severe head trauma. He was taken by Life Flight to a hospital in critical condition. Neighbors describe the couple's relationship as a stormy one.


MICHAEL BAKER, NEIGHBOR OF VICTIM: I didn't expect that she would go that far but they did a lot of arguing together and screaming and he has a temper and she does, too.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LEMON: Well, police say the victim was trying to run away when he was hit.

SAMBOLIN: Bombshell testimony in the murder trial of Martin MacNeill. An ex-cell mate taking the stand Wednesday then he says the former Utah doctor admitted to killing his wife, even providing details about the kind of drugs that he used to do it. The inmate is expected back on the stand today and so is MacNeill's mistress.

Here is CNN's Jean Casarez.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Martin MacNeill not only admitted he killed his wife, he bragged about it, according to his former cell mate. The revelation came out when Jason Poirier asked MacNeill about his comfortable shoes, not available to other prisoners.

JASON POIRIER, WITNESS: They were especially made, I guess.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. So you were asking, how do I get a pair of those, as kind of a joke?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

POIRIER: He said, no, you can't. I said, well, how do you get away with that? And he's like, I can get away with a lot of things.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say he murdered his wife?

POIRIER: Yes, he didn't it like that, but he said I'm getting away with murdering my wife.

CASAREZ: Poirier was the fourth of five inmates to testify for the prosecution. The others did so off camera. Still incarcerated and fearing for their safety by snitching on MacNeill. The inmates testified MacNeill confessed to killing his wife but without actually saying it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he gave her some oxy and some sleeping pills and then got her to get in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he say what he did next?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Later on, he just said he had to help her out and I asked him what that was and he said he held her head under the water for a little while. He said that she was in the way, that she wanted the house and the kids. He said they couldn't prove that he, you know, did anything.

CASAREZ: Prosecutors charge Dr. MacNeill killed his wife of 30 years by drowning her in the family bathtub after plying her with a potent mix of medications, all so he could marry his mistress Gypsy Willis. POIRIER: I just want -- I apologize about your wife. And he goes, no, I'm glad the bitch is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Martin talk to at all about the relationship he had with his wife before she died?

POIRIER: There was going downhill, that they were trying to get his money and she was not going to let him keep cheating on him, keep cheating on her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was all a lie, of course, right?

POIRIER: Yes, it was.

CASAREZ: While the defense called them liars and attempted to poke holes in their story, Poirier satisfied he and MacNeill shared poetry while behind bars together and MacNeill was writing a book about his life story.

POIRIER: Afterward I was done reading his autobiography, I asked him, are you serious about this?


POIRIER: About murdering your wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

POIRIER: He goes, yes, I'm serious. Look where I'm at. And I immediately told the guards I need to switch sections.


POIRIER: I didn't want to be around him.

CASAREZ: Jean Casarez, CNN, Provo, Utah.


LEMON: All right, Jean. Thank you very much.

An update now on the San Francisco woman found dead inside a hospital stairwell last month. The local sheriff reported Wednesday that deputies had the wrong description of the woman and failed to search the area where she was found. British born Lynn Spalding was discovered 17 days after she disappeared. The medical examiner has not yet released the cause of death.

SAMBOLIN: Nineteen minutes past the hour. So this may work for Santa Claus but chimneys and burglars don't make the best combination. Just ask Richard Brandon. He's in the Collier County Jail this morning after trying to break into a Naples, Florida, home -- you guessed it -- through the chimney. He got stuck. His accomplice panicked and asked police at a nearby 7-Eleven for help. It took firefighters 30 minutes to get Brandon out.

LEMON: When I first saw that, I thought you said Richard Branson. I was like --


I was like, wait a minute. That guy is everywhere. Richard Brandon.

SAMBOLIN: Stupid criminals, right?

LEMON: So remember the story, remember the Kevin Ware story during that basketball game where he broke his leg? Well, Kevin Ware is back 222 days after the Louisville guard suffered a gruesome leg injury. On the court now.

SAMBOLIN: I want to see what he looks like.

LEMON: Yes. Can't wait.


LEMON: We were calling this the break heard around the world. Right?

SAMBOLIN: It was amazing.

LEMON: Less than eight months after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries ever seen on a basketball court, Louisville's Kevin Ware is back in action.

SAMBOLIN: Andy Scholes is going to join us now with more on this morning's "Bleacher Report."

We were talking, Andy, about the psychology behind this, how these kids actually get back on the basketball court and they are not scared.

ANDY SCHOLES, THE BLEACHERREPORT.COM: Yes. Good morning, guys. It's great to see Kevin back out there and he's definitely not scared. He was cleared to practice this last Sunday and you know, he didn't expect to play last night but Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, he surprised everyone when he called Ware's number.

And it was just last March the -- Cardinals guard suffered this gruesome injury. We all remember this image of him laying out on the court. Last night Ware showed, hey, he's all healed up. He came in half way through the second half of the exhibition game. He got a standing ovation.

Look, he hits the very first shot he takes. It was a three-pointer. The junior guard played only 10 minutes in the game but as you can imagine, he was definitely thrilled to be back out and on the court.


KEVIN WARE, LOUISVILLE CARDINALS GUARD: When he called my number, I was just ready to get in. I've been waiting for this moment for 200 and -- like 20 days now so I'm happy.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Well, here's something you rarely see. John Moffitt, an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, is quitting the NFL midseason and walking away from a million dollars. Moffitt says he is retiring from football because he's lost his love for the game and he's tired of risking his health. Moffitt added, "I'm not trying to be the poster boy for oh, I thought I should leave because of concussions, I'm just saying it's a valid point." Moffitt was drafted in the third round in 2011 and was only in his third season in the league.

But trending on today is this crazy video from last night's Blackhawk-Jets game. The Jets' Adam Pardy gets checked through the glass, then a fan steals his helmet and puts it on his head. Poor Pardy he got his helmet stolen. This lady pours her beer on his head. The video clearly showed that Chicago fans are definitely hardcore.

Kansas State Women's Basketball team is excited about tipping off their season tomorrow night and in hopes of luring a big student crowd to the game the school is offering them free bacon.

LEMON: Oh, my.


SCHOLES: KSU announced the promotion on Twitter and guys, it's gained so much steam that the school had to increase their order of bacon from 100 pounds to 300 pounds.

SAMBOLIN: Yum, yum.

SCHOLES: So if you get there an hour before the game, they're going to give you this paper boat full of bacon.

LEMON: And the problem with that is?


LEMON: You kidding me?

SAMBOLIN: Messy. Hey, one question.

LEMON: I love the bacon.

SAMBOLIN: Did the Blackhawks win or did they lose?

SCHOLES: You know what, I didn't even see the score. I was so wrapped up in watching the video of that guy getting his head -- his helmet ripped off and then the beer poured on his head and then I was --

SAMBOLIN: Crazy video.

SCHOLES: Thinking about eating bacon all morning.

(LAUGHTER) SAMBOLIN: All right. I'll check in on that. Thank you so much.

LEMON: Hopefully they're serving some bagels with that and maybe a little scrambled eggs, that'd be nice.

SAMBOLIN: To sop up all the oil, right?

LEMON: Thank you, Andy Scholes. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the NFL launching an investigation of the Miami Dolphins workplace in the face of a widening bullying scandal and now some of Richie Incognito's teammates are coming to his defense.


LEMON: Senate Democrats meeting with the president to get their health care exchanges up and running. Why some are fearing political fallout of the Obamacare Web site debacle.

SAMBOLIN: Getting to the bottom of it. The NFL digging deep into the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. They are looking for answers once and for all they say.

LEMON: And how about this one. Steamy sex scandal. A female police officer's affair with drug dealer -- with a drug dealer that she was investigating uncovered. How she jeopardize other officers and ruined the investigation with her trip.

SAMBOLIN: That's maybe a little too steamy for 5:30 in the morning, don't you think?