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Mega Millions Winners; Deadly Hospital Shooting; Knox's Emotional Plea

Aired December 18, 2013 - 05:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: An unbelievable morning for two Mega Million lottery holders. Two tickets matching all six numbers, splitting one of the largest jackpots in history. What we know this morning about the winners.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The shooting rampage near that Nevada hospital. The very latest on what we're hearing this morning.

BROWN: And a passionate plea from Amanda Knox, saying she is not a psychopath, on trial again for the brutal death of her roommate. We are live with that story.

BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

I'm here this morning. That should tell you something.

BROWN: Yes, it does. I'm here as well. Great to fill in for Christine. I'm Pamela Brown.

BERMAN: It is Wednesday, December 18th. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

And we are both here this morning, because we have bad news for millions and millions and millions of you. You did not win. Neither did we?


BERMAN: This now say worthless piece of paper, another dollar thrown to the wind. However, not everyone say loser this morning -- at least not that kind of loser. There are two tickets out there, two winning tickets for the massive Mega Millions jackpot, the one that's not ours. They will split the jackpot. They could have approached $648 million and, of course, deal with the onslaught of dysfunction that inevitably seems to follow.

Alison Kosik is here with the details.

Good morning, Alison.


And let's get to the numbers. I'm sure people throughout want to check their numbers, because hey, you could have won one of the lesser prizes. I won a dollar. BERMAN: Everyone is a loser this morning, Pamela and me.

BROWN: I should check my ticket by the way. Go ahead.

KOSIK: You should, because, you know, you get your dollar back.

BROWN: Exactly.

KOSIK: So, there they are on the screen -- 8, 20, 14, 17, 39, mega ball, 7.

And the two winning tickets if you're wondering, they were sold in two states, Georgia and California. One was purchased at the Gateway newsstand inside a shopping mall in Atlanta. The other at Jenny's gift shop in San Jose.

Now, this one was the second biggest million jackpot in history. Just $20 million shy of the record prize given out last March. Of course, it is far too early to know exactly who won. Whether each ticket belongs to one person, a group or a family, maybe even a whole office pool.

Either way, the prize will get divided up at least in half. And the way the lottery works, the cash option is already about half of the total, so even though the big number was $636 million, it's really worth, only, I say only lightly -- $341 million in cash.

BERMAN: That's paltry, $341 million.

KOSIK: It's better than waking up with a dollar like I did. What you have to do, you have to factor in the state taxes and Washington's share, and each of the winners will only walk away with around $120 million. That's still not bad. I'd take it.

The number of people who actually jumped in for their chance to win, you know, you can't overstate that, because you look in Florida lottery, officials say the sales topped 8,000 per minute, on Tuesday. That's obscene.

One New Hampshire store clerk said she had to change the rolls of printer paper four times in the course of just a few hours. That's despite overwhelming odds that most people just would not win.

You know, let's go over the odds more likely to be hit by an asteroid or a comet, get bitten by a shark, gets struck by lightning. All of those things, you better have odds of happening to you other than winning the Mega Millions. But two people clearly have beaten the odds.

I do want you to know, the people who have won the jackpot will eventually have to come forward publicly. Only six states allow lottery winners to stay anonymous and California and Georgia are not one of them, two of them. But it may take a while to know for sure because California gives its winners up to a year to claim their prize. Georgia allows up to six months, giving them plenty of time to call a lawyer. Get their affairs together before starting their new lives as multimillionaires.

Not too bad, though, for 20 second prize winners. Second place, each of them getting $1 million.

BROWN: Let me just check my ticket.

KOSIK: I could be sitting next to a millionaire.

BROWN: You could be. And, by the way, I've been covering the story as well. Fascinating to read, $800,000 in lottery prizes goes unclaimed every year because people think, oh, I'm not the winner.

KOSIK: They junk the ticket.

BROWN: And they could be one of the millionaires.

BERMAN: If you're not here for the second half of the show, we'll know you check out --


BERMAN: Alison, thanks so much. I appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you so much.

And shifting our focus to another big story this morning. There are many questions about a deadly shooting near a hospital in Reno, Nevada. The gunman opened fire in a neurology office near Renown Regional Medical Center. At least one person was killed and two others wounded, before gunman turned the weapon on himself.

The entire building was lockdown as SWAT teams went room to room.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll get you out as soon as we can, but if you would stay in this room, that would mean you're accounted for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.


TOM ROBINSON, RENO DEPUTY POLICE CHIEF: As far as the suspect goes, we still don't have a solid identity on him yet, but we're working several leads on who he is.


BROWN: And police say they don't think the shooting was random, but the motive at this point remains unclear.

BERMAN: It is another chilly morning in the country as another hit of snow makes its way out to sea. The intense cold snap that socked the nation is now turning deadly, taking the life of a homeless man in New Hampshire. BROWN: And in New York, a massive 32-car pileup is being blamed on fast-forming black ice. Temperatures rose during the day causing the light snow that fell on the city to melt a little. Then it refroze, leading to slides and spinouts. The injuries said to be minor, unbelievably.

BERMAN: In Chicago, a woman drown after falling into the icy Chicago River, apparently slipping after walking alongside the river early Tuesday morning. Just last week, a 31 year old also fell into the river but was rescued in time. Doctors, of course, warned that hypothermia can set in very, very quickly.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As your temperature goes down, your disorientation occurs, you get very confused. It's hard for people in the water --


BERMAN: Indra Petersons is tracking all the weather. She joins us this morning at the table.

Good morning, Indra.

BROWN: Good morning.


I think we know by now -- no maps this morning. A little difficulty. I'm going to give you what you need to know before you go outside.

Here's the best part, it's not snowing anymore. Unless you're all the way in Maine, and even that is going to be kicking out of here. So, definitely a calmer day. You guys talk about the black ice. So, it's definitely dangerous. You want to be careful on this morning hours.

Very cool temperatures. It's a little surprise here. We've got maps for you guys.

Let's talk about some of the amounts we got. Central Park -- now, keep in mind, we definitely saw a lot in New York, all the way through the afternoon. But a lot of it melted on impact, so it only measured about an inch or so. We definitely saw a higher amount. You noticed, even out towards Massachusetts, they got eight inches, it looks like out there. The big thing today, we're still going to be talking about some lake-effect snow. So, you want to watch for a heavy amount, off of Lake Erie and Ontario. It could last even as far tomorrow. And yet, we know it's cold.

Of course, temperatures below normal here on the Northeast, but it's down in the Southeast. All eyes are going to have to focus on this -- notice places like Memphis and Atlanta. Those temperatures are going to be going up significantly over the next several days, which means there have been a severe weather threat by the weekend. You never want warm air this time of year coming up against cold air. Here's why -- notice there are two systems out West. Watch the first big number one, let's just look at the big number one, that's all you need to know. This guy moves a lot quicker. So for the Midwest, by Friday or so, you're going to be about just some light showers and rain here in the Northeast. But by Saturday and Sunday, that big number two, that huge trough, the big U-shape there, that's going to bring a threat for severe weather by the weekend, and that's key.

This late in the season, again, be talking about straight line winds, and even the threat for tornadoes, right around the gulf there. We're going to be monitoring that --

BERMAN: So, the severe weather you're talking about, tornadoes?

PETERSONS: I mean, not as strong as straight line winds but you cannot rule them out. The threat is there this late in the season.

BROWN: And where exactly we should be focused on?

PETERSONS: We're talking about Kentucky, all the way back from Texas, and by the weekend, even into the Carolinas, down through Florida by Sunday. So, we'll be watching that closely.

BERMAN: All right. We'll watch it everyday.

Thanks, Indra. Appreciate it.

BROWN: Thank you.

Well, the Senate is poised today to give final approval to a bipartisan budget deal that will hold off another government shutdown. On Tuesday, 12 Republicans joined with Senate Democrats to end debate on the plan, which would fund the government through 2015. It easily cleared the House last week, and President Obama has said that he will sign it.

BERMAN: There's a growing diplomatic uproar between the U.S. and India, after a consular official in New York was arrested on charges that she faked documents for her housekeeper's visa. Police strip- searched her and held her in a cell with other females before she could pose bond.

But now, that treatment is called barbaric. And officials there are retaliating against U.S. diplomats, striping them of government ID cards and taking down security barriers outside the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

BROWN: Ongoing dispute there.

Meantime, six Americans service members in Afghanistan are dead after their helicopter crashed. It happened in the southern part of the country. And two senior U.S. officials tell CNN it's not clear if enemy fire may have been responsible for their deaths. The Pentagon is looking into reports that the troops actually survived that crash that came under mortar fire after the chopper went down. Those reports have not been confirmed. BERMAN: Brazil's president is still not commenting on a deal being offered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Snowden is offering to help Brazil's investigation into American spying in exchange for permanent political asylum there.

Brazilian lawmakers are furious with the U.S. after Snowden revealed that the NSA was monitoring their president's phones and e-mails.

BROWN: Libya says it will allow British and U.S. investigators to question a key suspect in the 1988 bombing of the Pan-Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Libya's former intelligence chief under Moammar Gadhafi is currently in a Tripoli jail, facing charges of crimes against humanity. American authorities suspect he played a role in the deadly attack. And Libya's justice minister tells the British press we all need to know the facts.

BERMAN: A strong denial from the Obama administration over reports that the West now thinks that Bashar al Assad should not leave power in Syria. Robert Ford telling al Arabiya TV that the White House position has not changed and Assad must go. Forces say they were told by Western officials in London that there's growing fear that if al Assad leaves Syria, Syria could collapse in the chaos. Peace talks between the government and rebels are scheduled for next month.

BROWN: And staying overseas -- a top Iranian official indicating that the administration may be able to work out a long-term nuclear deal. The foreign adviser to the supreme leader told the official Iranian news agency that, quote, "situation is ready for Iran to reach a final agreement with world powers." The Iranian government reached an interim deal last month, but pulled out of further talks to protest how sanctions are being enforced.

BERMAN: So, President Obama will not be heading to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Neither will Vice President Biden. They're the latest world leaders to pass on attending the games. The White House instead plans to send a delegation that includes tennis great Billie Jean King who is openly gay. This, of course, seems like not a so subtle rebuke to Russia's anti-gay laws.

French President Francois Hollande and Germany's president have also announced they will not attend the games.

A clear signal I think.

BROWN: Yes, it's there.

All right. Coming up, a new passionate plea from Amanda Knox, telling an Italian court in a five-page letter that she is not a murderer. But what else does she say? We are live with the very latest on the story.

BERMAN: And a dramatic rescue on the track. A blind man and his guide dog falling from the subway platform. What happened next, folks, is truly stunning. We'll tell you all about it right after the break.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

A new plea from Amanda Knox this morning. She is again declaring her innocence, this time, in her retrial for murder. And even though she isn't in the Italian courtroom, her words are being heard in the form of a letter.

Erin McLaughlin is following the story.

Erin, did Knox -- what did Knox say exactly about the trial and did she explain why she's not there?


Well, Amanda Knox is not legally required to be in court. And she said that she's afraid to be there, writing, and that she's worried that the prosecution will be able to, in her words, blind the judges, though she did submit this five-page letter written in Italian to the judges, when the presiding judge received it. He questioned why she wasn't there to deliver the message in person, though he nevertheless read it out in court, in that letter.

She reasserts her innocence, saying, quote, "I must repeat to you, I'm innocent, I did not rape, I did not steal, I did not kill Meredith."

Now for six years, questions have swirled around her seemingly erratic behavior and statements that followed Meredith Kercher's death, behavior and statements that the prosecution used in the original trial to convict her. She explains in this letter that was in part due to police intimidation writing, quote, "I was lied to by the police. I was threatened. They hit me twice, I had no lawyer."

And she described the psychological pressure of standing trial saying, "I was called as a wolf dressed as a sheep, a rapist, a thief, psychotic. I am not a psychopath."

Now, Sollecito's lawyers are expected to give their closing arguments in January. We expect a verdict in this trial later that month -- John.

BERMAN: Of course, Meredith Kercher was the young woman killed in Italy. What's her family now saying about all of this?

MCLAUGLIN: Well, under Italian law, Meredith Kercher's family is allowed to have legal representation in this trial. They spoke out in the trial, earlier in the week, saying that they believe there is enough evidence to convict Amanda Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. They urged them to look at the bigger picture.

They're also critical of the defendants, saying, quote, "no one remembers Meredith. While the two defendants write books, speak to the media and earn money, Meredith has been killed and her suffering has been incalculable." So, Kercher's family clearly siding with the prosecution.

Now, no matter what the outcome of this trial, both sides, under Italian law will be able to appeal. If ultimately Amanda Knox is convicted, it, of course, will be up to the United States whether or not to extradite her -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Erin McLaughlin for us reporting on the Amanda Knox story. Another twist and turn this morning. Appreciate it.

Seventeen minutes after the hour.

Finding out more about the gunman's plan and the attack on a Colorado high school. The sheriff in Arapahoe County said Karl Pierson had written things on his arms that seemed to correspond what classrooms and the library at Arapahoe High School, places officials say he planned to attack. Also on his arm, a Latin phrase meaning "the die has been cast."

Pierson burst into school on Friday, shot a classmate before moving to library and shooting himself in the head.

The classmate Claire Davis is currently hospitalized and in a coma.

BROWN: The LAX shooting suspect has now been formally indicted for first degree murder. Twenty-three-year-old Paul Ciancia is now charged with 11 felonies, in connection with November 1st shooting that killed TSA officer Gerardo Hernandez. The charges carry a possible death sentence. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether or not to seek the death penalty.

BERMAN: You know this was coming. A Harvard University sophomore is due in court today, facing charges that he was behind the bomb threat that all but shut down the school earlier this week. The 20-year-old Eldo Kim was accused of e-mailing threats to the police and "Harvard Crimson" newspaper claiming there were explosives in four buildings. These buildings were evacuated and searched, nothing was found.

Kim was among those scheduled to take final exams on Monday. I was reading in the Crimson, of course, there are questions that he was trying to get out of those exams.

BROWN: And that was what the speculation was when it happened, that there was a student who called it in.

So, we'll keep an eye on that story.

Meantime, at least 22 homes have now been destroyed by a wildfire burning in Big Sur, California. The fire so far has scorched nearly 800 acres, but the good news is it is now about 20 percent contained. Big Sur fire chief Martha Karstens is among those who lost their homes.


MARTHA KARSTENS, CHIEF BIG SURE FIRE BRIGADE: Until it happens to you, you feel sorry for them. But, literally, I went out to fight a fire. I had my purse, I had my cell phone and my glasses. And I didn't know I was going to be trying to save my own home.


BROWN: Amazingly, there are no injuries reported from the fire and cruise hope to contain it by Friday. The cause still under investigation.

BERMAN: Now, to simply amazing story from right here in New York City where a blind man named Cecil Williams was on a subway platform when he fell on to the tracks. The train was fast approaching. His seeing eye dog named Orlando was at his side. The dog tried to pull Cecil back, but it didn't work. The dog fell on to the tracks, too. Obviously they could have been seriously hurt.

This is the amazing part. Both are OK, despite having the train roll over top of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was all the way at the edge, backwards. And the dog was trying to pull him in. I tried to scream at him to come in, because he was near the tracks.

REPORTER: And then he fell --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then he fell.

REPORTER: Down to the tracks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Down to the tracks.

REPORTER: And the dog?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the dog, he pulled him in there with him. I yelled at the man to stay down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It must have been a lucky day for him. He was semi coherent. He asked us how his dog was doing. We told him his dog was fine.


BERMAN: What they did, they lied down in the trench on the track. Both the dog and Cecil Williams are OK. He did suffer several cuts, he's in the hospital. The dog was by his side most of the night. The dog has since gone home with Williams' girlfriend.

BROWN: And in today's "Road Warriors", some advice for working smarter on the road using the latest smartphone apps. If you don't feel like fight for a taxi, you can check out Uber. When you're ready to ride, you can select a nearby car based off your phone's GPS, as we see here. The app then sends your driver's contact information and their estimated time of arrival. And then there is iExit. Now, this is an app that takes the guesswork out of planning your next pit stop. We can all use this right? Telling your smartphone what choices you have for food, gas and hotels, and up to 150 nearby exits.

And if you find yourself with some down time, you have bike friendly city. You can check out Spin-lister. This app puts you in touch with locals who have a bike to share. All you have to do is pick a date and time. Reserve a ride and then return the bike to its owner when you're finished.

All three apps work in many major cities across the U.S.

BERMAN: Just return the bike when you're down.

BROWN: Yes, I was going to say, the key to that is returning it.

BERMAN: Exactly. The honor system there.

BROWN: All right. Twenty-one minutes after the hour.

Coming up, a first ever in the history of MMA, a battle of the sexes playing out inside the ring. Andy Scholes explains it all in the "Bleacher Report", coming up next.


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

We could see MMA history Friday night in Brazil. A man is going to fight a woman in MMA.

BROWN: Hmm, want to learn more about this? Andy Scholes joins us now with the details in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, BLEACHER REPORT: Hey, good morning, guys.

Well, the promoters for this MMA fight card in Brazil looking to get people's attention, mission accomplished. The promotion poster is getting a ton of buzz on, and all over social media. It features Emerson Falcao on the left and his opponent Juliana Velasquez on the right.

Now, Velasquez says she trained with men everybody and she is ready for the challenge. No word yet on whether there will be any special rules for the contest. I'm sure Velasquez is a great fighter but seems like a really, really bad idea.

All right. What's better than one buzzer beater? How about two buzzer beaters? That's exactly what happened in a senior varsity high school game in Indiana.

Check it out -- Harrison High. It's a great three-pointer with just one second left on the clock. They celebrate, think they've won the game, but then after a time-out, Avon (ph) hit a crazy half-court shot at the buzzer to win the game. Another example of it ain't over until it's over.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski still recovering from knee surgery, but he isn't too hurt to spread holiday cheer. The all pro dressed up like an elf and wheeled his way around in children's hospital in Boston, visiting with all the patients. Gronk handed out gifts with teammate Steven Ridley, he played the role of Santa Claus.

I don't know what says Christmas than Rob Gronkowski dressed like an elf wheeling his way around in a wheel chair.

BERMAN: It's a big elf. I mean, Gronk makes her a very big elf. Notice, this is for patriot fans. Gronk is the one holding on to the football because if they gave it to Ridley, he'd probably drop it. Thank you very much.

That's for all you Patriots fans out there. Had to be said.

Andy Scholes, had to be said. Andy Scholes, always great to see you. Appreciate it.

BROWN: Thanks, Andy.

The top headlines and everything you need know for the day right after this break.

Stay with us.


BERMAN: Two tickets splitting one of the largest lottery jackpots ever. Can you say merry freaking Christmas? This morning, what we know about the winners so far.

BROWN: And a gunman on a shooting spree at a hospital campus in Reno. Two dead, two more injured. The latest on the investigation just ahead.

BERMAN: And a severe snowstorm turns deadly. Indra Petersons this morning with the latest on this really surprising system.

BROWN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown.

And I guess the fact that we're here right now means we did not win the lottery.

BERMAN: Yes, we are losers this morning, folks.

BROWN: Yes. Sums it up.

BERMAN: Take that for what it's worth.

Thirty minutes after the hour. I'm John Berman. Great to see you this morning. BROWN: Well, it is a very good morning, not only for us because we get to work together obviously. But for two people who are now millions of dollars richer.

BERMAN: I like eye you a lot but I would take the $640 million. I would, I would.

BROWN: You're crazy. How dare you?

BERMAN: I like you maybe like a few million. Not 640.

BROWN: All right. Well, these other two people who actually did win the jackpot, unlike us.