Return to Transcripts main page


25 Years Behind Bars; Celebrity Chef Takes the Stand; Joe Biden Among Increasing Tensions

Aired December 4, 2013 - 08:30   ET


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so we're going to continue with the hat thing, take off --


PEREIRA: The lawyer hat and put on the fortune teller's hat.


PEREIRA: Do you think that this is going to have a side effect of other famous people out there are going to be reluctant to pursue lawsuits because they know that all this kind of dirt could potentially come out in a very public and embarrassing fashion?

JACKSON: You know, it's very troubling, Michaela, because, listen, you don't want your neighbors to know what's going on if it's a negative thing. Now think about the world knowing exactly what's happening.



JACKSON: And so it's an individual thing. But if you -- remember David Letterman and when he came out about the extortion issue against him.

PEREIRA: He knew, right.

JACKSON: And he knew that there would be damaging things about his personal life. But at the end of the day, he overcame that and said, you know what, you're not extorting me, I'm going to get justice, right? I'm going to get justice here.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: But he also did something very uncommon, he jumped on the allegation. You know, as he's done in the past, remember when they had the ones about his - his extramarital -


JACKSON: Oh, yes.

CUOMO: He came out and said, yep. Very unusual. When people want to keep things hidden, they do it.

JACKSON: It is. He got ahead of it. BOLDUAN: Yes, but he didn't do anything. That's the thing, it's one thing to say, yep and jump on it really quickly, but it's another thing when people aren't going to believe it when you say, nope, I didn't do it.

JACKSON: Right. That's true, Kate.

CUOMO: True.

JACKSON: That's very true. But I think here, you know what, she is - I think she has enough sensibilities and she testifies very well. She's a figure. She's written books. She has her show and everything else. And it depends ultimately how she handles it and how she (INAUDIBLE).

PEREIRA: Well, she may be sitting down with Oprah. So, it will be interesting to see how that changes the perception of her -

JACKSON: Sure. And the whole dynamic.

PEREIRA: And the dynamic, right. Yes.


PEREIRA: Joey Jackson, love having you here.

JACKSON: A pleasure and a privilege. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Joey.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", Vice President Joe Biden now in China trying to smooth things over between China and Japan, but some of his comments seem to be inviting more criticism. We're going to tell you about his potentially latest slip.

CUOMO: Imagine spending 25 years of your life behind bars for a murder you didn't commit. Sounds like a fantasy all too real for a man named Michael Morton. We're going to talk to him about how he ended up there, how he eventually got out, picking up the pieces. It's an amazing story.


CUOMO: Big bad winter storm is on the move and Indra Petersons knows where it's going.

Tell us.

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Pretty much everywhere. That's the problem. We're already seeing the entire west impacted by this system and eventually it will make its way into the Midwest as early as tomorrow.

Let's talk about, right now, already seeing a foot of snow in through Colorado. In Minnesota, so the northern portions of the Midwest, we're still talking about some of that heavy snow, as well. But let's talk about the change that's really going to affect so many of us as we move in through tomorrow. Let's look at the system right now. Watch it progress to the east. I stopped it tomorrow at noon for a reason. We're looking at the wintry mix here. Really anywhere from southern portions of Missouri back in through Texas.

The reason that is so important is, where we have that threat for freezing rain. We're talking about very difficult conditions not only on the road and in the air, but also the threat of power outages. A lot of trees falling down from the heavy rain that will be there for freezing rain.

Now, notice as I take you later into Thursday, we still have that threat with us. In fact, it actually expands all the way into the Ohio Valley. Now, with this, most likely sleet the farther north you are. But either way, what you want to take away from this is it stays with us, even as we go towards the end of the week.

And keep in mind, if you have that freezing rain, if you have a half an inch of freezing rain on those power lines, that will take those power lines out. It weighs 500 pounds. The National Weather Service offices, a lot of variety here as far as what they think as far as the amounts. That is typical. We're still a little far away. But either way you need to know the threat of the ice storm is in the forecast.

And even when that first system clears out, notice as we go through the weekend, a second system giving that threat all over again. It's still in the forecast. It looks like we're going to have trouble really all weekend long. And, of course, the temperatures, another big story. We're talking about good 50 degree temperature drop. Temperatures 40 degrees below normal in many places in the Midwest, into the Northeast.


BOLDUAN: All right, Indra, thank you so much.

Right now, Vice President Joe Biden is in China amid increasing tensions with Japan. Beijing and Tokyo at each other's throats over disputed air space. Biden delivered careful remarks in support of Japan, but critics say he also put his foot in his mouth at the same time. "Early Start" anchor John Berman is joining us with more on this.

So what did he say?

JOHN BERMAN, ANCHOR, CNN'S "EARLY START": You know you said the vice president's using really careful language over there. That's not always easy for the vice president. There is no question this is a hugely important trip for U.S./Chinese relations, but it's also a very important trip for Vice President Joe Biden.


JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has an interest in the lowering of tensions in this vital region. BERMAN (voice-over): Vice President Joe Biden, where he wants to be, in the global diplomatic spotlight, trying to turn down the volume on an increasingly noisy territorial tug of war. The vice president was in Tokyo, where longtime ally Japan, along with the U.S., is pushing back against China's move to set up a restricted flight zone over some disputed islands in the East China Sea.

BIDEN: This action has raised regional tensions and increased the risk of accidents and miscalculation.

BERMAN: But in what critics might call Biden being Biden, the vice president also made some comments that raised a few eyebrows to this group of professional women.

BIDEN: Do your husbands like you working full time?

BERMAN: Let's hear that again.

BIDEN: Do your husbands like you working full time?

BERMAN: The question in political circles back home is, if he runs for the top job in 2016, will it be Biden the experienced politician, or Biden the occasional gaffe machine that emerges as the candidate.

On Tuesday, the husband of a possible Biden rival had high praise for the vice president.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I've known him for years and years and I have a very high opinion of him. I care a great deal about him and I think he's done a good job for the president and for the country.

BERMAN: If Hillary Clinton runs again, she would be the overwhelming front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But if she doesn't --

CLINTON: Well, if he runs, and he's the nominee, I'll try to help him win. I think the world of him.

BERMAN: And if that happens --

BIDEN: This is a big (EXPLETIVE DELETED) deal.


BERMAN: So I want to parse what the former president said there because it's always fun to parse Bill Clinton's language. He is not saying that he necessarily wants Joe Biden to be the nominee. What he is saying is that if Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee, he would support him. Which, you know, isn't exactly going way, way out on a limb there for President Clinton.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Whoever's the Democratic nominee, I think he's going to back him.

BERMAN: Exactly. Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Or her for that matter.

BERMAN: I would say her for sure. All right, let's stipulate that.

BOLDUAN: Regardless, it will be a big deal, as Joe likes to say.

BERMAN: Yes, exactly.

CUOMO: That is not what Joe said.

BERMAN: Yes, no, Joe likes to say a lot more than that.

CUOMO: Yes, look, in that way, he kind of reminds you of former President Bush in a way that, you know, a lot of people find that that's a folksy charm that he has, that there's a little bit of a misspeaking -

BOLDUAN: That is part of his charm.

CUOMO: More normal and he's got to balance that with what you want out of a leader, but, you know, it makes him interesting to cover.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

Coming up next on "NEW DAY", 25 years of your life gone for a murder you did not commit. Michael Morton knows what that feels like. How he survived it in his own words, coming up next.

CUOMO: And this woman wins the lottery, doesn't know it, but somebody did and they track her down in a way you won't believe. So does she get the money? Big question. We have the answer.


CUOMO: Welcome back to "NEW DAY".

Now a story that confirms many's worse fears about the justice system. Here's the story. 1987, Michael Morton convicted of the brutal murder of his wife, Christine. It was a quick trial. He's sentenced 25 years aft that behind bars. Cut off from the world, obviously. Even lost contact with his only son. Then DNA evidence proved that Morton had claimed all along, he was innocent. Now, this story we're bringing you comes ahead of a new CNN film. We sat down with Michael to get the story in his own words. Take a look.


MICHAEL MORTON, WRONGFULLY CONVICTED OF WIFE'S DEATH: When I first got to Texas penitentiary, the first thing they do is they strip you naked and search you. As I was standing in line to get my boots, I noticed the guy in front of me. I counted 13 stab wounds in his back.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST (voice over): At just 32 years old life, as Michael Morton knew it, was over. His wife gone, his family gone, his dreams gone. He was now a murderer and his reality was prison -- his new life goal, to survive. MORTON: I am probably the personification of that old axiom you remember from school about you can't prove a negative. How do you prove you didn't to something?

CUOMO: Morton was trying to prove he didn't beat his wife Christine to death on August 13th, 1986. There was no evidence placing him at the crime scene and no murder weapon. His three-year-old son who witnessed the murder even told police daddy didn't do it. But that statement and other details excluding Morton didn't come out until years later while he remained locked up.

(on camera): How rough was it inside?

MORTON: I never liked it. But I got used to it.

CUOMO: How long did it take you?

MORTON: Probably 14 or 15 years.

CUOMO: 14 or 15 years.

MORTON: To get to where I was used to it.

CUOMO: Are the first years the hardest?

MORTON: The first years are hard just because it's a shock and it's new and it's constant adjustment, constant recalibrations.

CUOMO (voice over): Morton says life behind bars began to take away his sense of self. What he missed most was his son, Eric, who was growing up without him.

(on camera): What did your son mean to you? Not just as a son. He had to represent things to you, ideas, over the course of this journey.

MORTON: Yes, my son for me, he ended up being more than just my child. As I began losing pieces of myself, my reputation, my assets, most of my friends -- as those things diminished, my son's importance rose just if nothing else supply and demand.

CUOMO: And how were those visits?

MORTON: To me, it was just I'm a starving man looking at some food on the other side and I'm just eating it up and it's great and it's wonderful. I've since found out he's looking at me as this guy that really doesn't exist in his life. Somebody he just sees once in a while.

CUOMO: As he started to grow up and wanted distance, how did you deal with that and what ultimately did it lead to?

MORTON: He suspended the visits and eventually when I found out that he had changed his name legally and been adopted -- few things are as powerful to a parent as the abject rejection of their child.

CUOMO (voice over): Morton always maintained his innocence and on the outside, his attorneys hadn't given up on his case.

BILL ALLISON, MICHAEL MORTON'S TRIAL ATTORNEY: I don't keep the files of all the cases I've tried. I kept Michael's file. Michael's case was different on almost every level, particularly an emotional level with me.

JOHN HALEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I cross-examine people for a living. I have a pretty good sense of when somebody is lying to me. Not always, but most of the time. There was nothing about this man that didn't speak to actual innocence.

CUOMO: Finally in 2004 -- progress. Attorneys for the Innocence Project began working with Morton. And they thought they had a chance.

(on camera): You say "I always thought that I would get out." What fueled the hope?

MORTON: It's difficult for me to say whether it was just faith that I knew I was right and I wasn't guilty that this would work out or just that I didn't know how deep I was in.

CUOMO (voice over): Then came the breakthrough: a request for DNA testing on a piece of evidence that would eventually unravel the case against Morton.

(on camera): The existence of the bandanna. What could be on the bandanna? What the bandanna meant. What was that in your life?

MORTON: That bandanna, in hindsight, was huge. Everything turned on that little square piece of cloth. It's only a big deal when you can step back and look at the whole picture and fights the impulse to say, "Oh, my God, there it is."


CUOMO: It really sucks you in, doesn't it? And there is a lot more to this obviously about why they put him in jail. How he was there? Whose DNA they would find on that? What it would lead to?


CUOMO: It is really one of the most compelling stories of its kind I've ever covered. And it's something that we didn't put in there. I talked to him about Amanda Knox because he was convicted in part because of something she suffers from in public perception as well. When he shows up at the scene, it was the old days, it was the 80s, so there wasn't as much communication. He shows up, the sheriff looks at him and he's calm. He's stoic.

PEREIRA: Not reacting the way people are expected to react.


CUOMO: People took it the wrong way. It was the wrong feel for him in court. And I asked him about that and he said the same thing that Amanda Knox said to me. "You don't know how you're going to react. I can't say that the way I did it -- I was trying to hold it all together everything -- defending myself, losing my wife, losing my family, losing my dreams. I didn't know how to react." But it wound up making a big difference to that jury.

PEREIRA: The thing that is so ordinary about this, too and we've seen it time and time again. He may have gained his freedom, but he lost everything.

CUOMO: Oh, yes.

PEREIRA: He lost his son. He lost his wife forever.

BOLDUAN: 25 years. I mean you have to -- I can't imagine the disbelief factor. You get in there and you're in the clink and you think this doesn't happen to me. This doesn't happen in reality. I didn't do this. This doesn't happen. This happens in the movies and it's happening to him -- 25 years.

CUOMO: And you'll get to hear tomorrow the things that he says turned it for him. What allowed him -- and it's not as simple. I know what you're thinking.

BOLDUAN: I don't know how he kept that perspective.

CUOMO: Oh, he must have found God. Yes, but it's not as simple as that. But it's powerful for him, but he is different. I kept asking him were you always this deep? Were you always this deep?

BOLDUAN: He seems so calm. He seems unaffected, which -- I don't know if that's --


CUOMO: -- which is very misleading because emotionally, he has been through a journey that I would not wish on anybody.

PEREIRA: Not anyone.

CUOMO: But to hear him tell his story about how he made it through, what changed his case and what would happen with the relationship with his son. That's the biggest piece of it.

BOLDUAN: There's much more to come.

PEREIRA: I'm so curious about it.

CUOMO: Tomorrow the CNN film is "AN UNREAL DREAM: THE MICHAEL MORTON STORY". It's going to air Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

BOLDUAN: We've been talking about that federal bailout, right? The federal bankruptcy. A federal judge has ruled that Detroit is eligible for the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Well now thousands of former city employees, they could lose their benefits in all of this. And that includes retired firefighter Brendan Milewski.

Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta with today's "Human Factor".


SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You're listening to the actual 911 call from August 13, 2010.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need everybody here now.

GUPTA: It's a day that began like any other, but one that would change firefighter Brendan Milewski's life forever.

BRENDAN MILEWSKI, FORMER FIREFIGHTER: I remember we were working on the facade of the building and somebody had yelled some sort of caution. And the bricks were kind of raining down in front of my face. And you're taught in a class situation to run toward a collapse, but your human instincts take over. I thought I had it beat is what caught up to me and hit me in the back.

GUPTA: Brendan knew right away his career as one of the Detroit's bravest was over. Brendan now spends three hours a day three days a week here at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan working to make the most of what muscles he still has control over.


MILEWSKI: All right.

There are days when I question whether or not I'm OK mentally, but to me it's simple. I learned early on that I have a voice through this and I have something to say and I have a message. As much as I hate that it's me and my story, I think that it's something we need to open up people's eyes to.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


PEREIRA: Another tremendous story.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: All right. Coming up here on "NEW DAY", some bright news -- not going to feel that way, but listen to this. Woman wins the lotto -- doesn't know it. Year goes by, out of luck. So sad, right? Not in the place known as Canada.

PEREIRA: Or Canada.

CUOMO: Canada. We'll tell you what our neighbors to the north did when they (inaudible) in "The Good Stuff". This is a heavy dose of the good stuff coming up.

PEREIRA: The locals call it Canada.


CUOMO: Rains from heaven -- by the millions.

Welcome back. Out of the dark and into the light with this good stuff, comes courtesy of our friends from the north known as Canada. Now here if you buy a winning lotto ticket and don't claim it after a certain amount of time, you're out of luck. End of the story.

PEREIRA: Out of luck.

CUOMO: There they actually come find you.


CUOMO: That is exactly what happened to Katherine Jones from Ontario. She purchases a ticket, wound up being a $50 million winner -- this happened last year. She loses the ticket -- didn't stop the lottery from pulling out all the stops to find her.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Through our transactions database, we determined that the time, date and location of the purchase, we obtained store security video which clearly shows the identified winner purchasing the winning ticket.


CUOMO: If you can't identify from the accent, what he's saying is that they had this database, they find her. So officials go to Jones' house and tell her the good news and get this, she almost didn't open the door.


KATHERINE JONES, LOTTERY WINNER: We weren't sure we wanted to let them in the house. We weren't sure who they were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is the sort of thing that simply wouldn't have been possible a number of years ago -- technology and our own ability to both look for people who shouldn't be winners and in very happy cases to find people who should be.


PEREIRA: I love it. All right, America, don't let Canada best you on this one.

CUOMO: We hate to admit --

BOLDUAN: We will.

CUOMO: -- anybody could do any better but I think that's a good system.

PEREIRA: It's a great system. CUOMO: And really good stuff.

PEREIRA: I think she thinks it's a great system, too.

BOLDUAN: She thinks it's a great system. She's staying in Canada.

PEREIRA: Love it. Way to go.

CUOMO: Good stuff.

All right. A lot of big news for us this morning. Don't forget those 911 calls from Newtown are coming out, so let's send you right over to Carol Costello with continuing coverage.

Good morning Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: I'll take it. Good morning. Have a great day.

"NEWSROOM" starts now.

Happening now in the "NEWSROOM", arctic blast.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anytime you have a snowstorm like this especially with cold temperatures, there's going to be ice. There's going to be snow packs.


COSTELLO: Temperatures plummeting 50 degrees.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're freezing. It was horrible.


COSTELLO: Ice, freezing rain and heavy snow, a massive storm stretching from Maine to Texas.

Also, dazed and confused.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that he had a great likelihood to be completely asleep.


COSTELLO: Brand new details in the Bronx train accident. Was highway hypnosis to blame.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said that he was dazed on Sunday morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you been able to talk to him about that?


COSTELLO: Plus, health alert. Three people in North Carolina had died from the flu. This morning reports of three new vaccines to fight the virus.