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Sam: I Am An Openly, Proud Gay Man; New Video of American in Labor Camp; Team USA Slopestyle Sweep; Loud Music Murder Trial; Water Hearing In West Virginia

Aired February 10, 2014 - 08:00   ET



MICHAEL SAM, COLLEGE FOOTBALL STAR: And I was afraid that it will leak out without me actually owning my truth. I want to let the world know and told them that, hey, I'm gay. Let me tell my own story.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If he's drafted this spring, Sam will become the first openly gay player in the National Football League.

SAM: I understand how big this is, because this is a big deal. No one has done this before. No one has done it. And it's kind of nervous process but I know what I want to be and I want to be a player snap in the NFL.

BERMAN: Reaction to Sam's announcement poured in almost instantly with the NFL releasing a statement of support, writing, "We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014. Sam, a projected mid-round pick who played for college in Missouri told his coach and his teammates about sexual orientation in August.

SAM: I was scared to tell them. Just to see the reaction was awesome. They supported me from day one.

BERMAN: Many of Sam's former teammates took to social media to rally around the 6'2" 255-pound lineman.

Linebacker Kentrell Brothers tweeted, "We are family, and we support all of our players. Nothing changes. It takes a lot of courage to do what he did and we are behind him all the way."

Sam launched a Twitter account Sunday night to thank everyone for their support. His announcement, a landmark moment in confronting homophobia in professional sports.

SAM: I probably maybe the first but I won't be the last. And I think only good things are going to come from this.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BERMAN: You know, it is important to remind people his teammates, coaches, they knew about this all year. It didn't break overnight because he told us he wants to get his story out on his terms before the NFL draft.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: As well he has the right to do it, right? Thank you so much, John.

Important note, pause, breathe. Get ready for awesomeness. Today, be sure to check out John Berman and Michaela Pereira. New show called "@ THIS HOUR" with Berman and Michaela, debuts 11:00 a.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

John is losing his first name. Michaela is losing her last name.

BERMAN: They only had room for two names --


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I don't know. Maybe distractingly attractive, too attractive to focus on the news.

PEREIRA: He says that now. That's the goal.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, guys. Who-hoo!

CUOMO: Good luck. Love you both. Going to be great. We know that in advance. That's a given.

All right. How about this saying? Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Hopefully, Atlanta officials got the first part of the saying right this time, as yet another winter storm moves in. You'll remember two weeks ago, roads turned into skating rinks because of the lack of foresight before two inches of snow. That's all that fell and then iced over and then chaos. Now, streets are being salted and extra supplies being brought in ahead of the storm.

Meteorologist Indra Petersons called this advance the last time. We will have a forecast in just a moment.

But, first, let's go to nick in Atlanta -- Nick.


Here we go again, Atlanta round two of the snowmagedden. State and local officials already taking precautions, winter storm watch, also in effect. That snow expected to fall about 7:00 p.m. tonight and last through Wednesday, perhaps even Thursday morning.

At a salt distribution center here in Atlanta, where we're told that trucks will later this morning go out and start salting those roads. We are expecting, as Michaela was talking about, about one to two inches of snow. That may not sound like much for those in the Northeast. But for a state not used to dealing with this type of thing you saw what happened a couple of weeks ago.

Thousands of motorists caught and trapped in the cars and the city shut down and just virtually paralyzed because of the winter weather. That was a very embarrassing situation for both the mayor here in Atlanta, Kasim Reed, and the governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal. That's why this time around, they are hoping the coordination efforts are better.

Kate, I'll throw it back to you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Nick, thanks so much.

Let's find out what they are facing this time around. Let's get straight over to meteorologist Indra Petersons for a look at that.

How it's been looking now, Indra?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I think we are hoping they got the message. What we're looking at, again, is all of this cold air. Notice the Midwest seeing temperatures 20 degrees below normal. That weather to the South, so that means a chance for snow in the forecast. You heard Nick say it, talking about several inches again, especially around Atlanta, and even higher amounts for northern portions of Georgia.

And we don't even stop there. There is a threat for icing, especially these overnight hours, into morning hours when temperatures really drop down. We're talking about a quarter of an inch. Some places 0.1 inch. Hardly matters. You get anything on those roadways, we saw the devastation they saw last time. They need to do one thing and that is, prepare.

They are not the only ones. That low affecting the southeast over the next several days, if you're in the Northeast, heads up, guys, this is going up the coast line, many a chance of snow for us by Wednesday and Thursday. How much? We're going to get to that, once we kind of ta (ph) couple of days.

CUOMO: All right. Indra, thank you for that.

New this morning, we are hearing from Kenneth Bae, the American missionary being held in North Korea. In a just released video, Bae says he is worried about his health after he was moved back to a labor camp following a stay in the hospital.

A sign of possible hope, former U.S. Ambassador Donald Greg is in Pyongyang this morning, capital of North Korea. The exact nature of his visit, though, is unclear.

CNN's Paul Hancocks is live in Seoul, South Korea -- Paula.

PAUL HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Chris, there is no link directly being made at this point between that visit by Donald Greg, and any possible lobbying to release Kenneth Bae.

But South Korean media certainly making that link. They believe that it's too big a coincidence to be a coincidence. They believe he may be in Pyongyang for that reason.

All we are hearing from state-run media, though, KCNA, is that he has arrived with a party. They are not mentioning why he is there either. So, we'll be watching that very closely.

But as you said, we have heard from Kenneth Bae over the weekend. This video out today, in it, he says he is very concerned about his health. He has been in the labor camp for the past three weeks. He says if he were there for much longer, he believes he would be back in hospital again. He says he has back pains, neck pains and he have a gum infection and he's lost ten pounds already.

Let's listen to what he said.


KENNETH BAE, HELD IN NORTH KOREA: I stay strong mentally and spiritually, and I am trying to stay strong emotionally as well. But my main concern right now is my physical condition-wise, doing hard labor for eight hours a day will be difficult. If they can do something right away it would be the best way to do it.


HANCOCKS: So serious concerns for his health.

Michaela, back to you.

PEREIRA: Paula Hancocks with the latest on Kenneth Bae, thank you so much.

Let's take a look at more of your headlines. A second round of peace talks under way this morning in Geneva. While this weekend, hundreds escaped the city of Homs.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom is in Beirut with more.


MOHAMED JAMJOON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They call it an evacuation but it looks more like an escape. Hundreds of women and children and the elderly running for their lives where it is just a few U.N. vehicles able to access the old city in Syria, a part of the city under siege for 600 days. Other videos, very powerful ones, showed these women and children as they were wedged between vehicles trying to make their way out of the old city.

Hard to believe but this was actually a sign of progress. The day before U.N. teams that entered the old city came under fire and were under attack for quite some time and couldn't leave the old city for hours. It is unclear today if evacuations will continue -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Mohammed Jamjoom with that -- thank you so much for that.

Also breaking overnight, unconfirmed threats being made to Caribbean Airlines flights departed from Guyana for the United States. The U.S. embassy in Guyana advising Americans to avoid the regional carrier through Wednesday, and to try and make alternative travel arrangements. Caribbean Airlines flies to New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Toronto, Canada.

New signs of cooperation between Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear watchdog says Iran agreed to take additional steps to ease concern over its nuclear program. They include allowing access to uranium mines.

Meanwhile, Iran is reportedly moving warships near the U.S. maritime borders. The Iranian state news agency says this is a response to the U.S. increasing its naval presence in the Persian Gulf.

The family of an American man missing in Mexico is asking for help finding him. Harry Devert was on a motorcycle trip from the United States to Latin America but he has not been seen or heard from since January 25th when he last texted his girlfriend. He was last known to have checked out of a bed and breakfast to travel to a beach on the Pacific Coast.

This star certainly waited long enough to be recognized. We're not talking Betty White. No. Astronomers in Australia have identified what they say is the oldest known star formed in the Milky Way galaxy more than 13.5 billion years ago.

So, how do you know the age of a star? Is it polite to ask?

It is determined by analyzing iron content. The lower the iron in the light spectrum, the older the star. It's kind of their version of laugh lines. Sure, I had a good time with that story.

CUOMO: You really owned that one. That was spicy.

BOLDUAN: Speaking of spicy which was a phrase coined by a fabulous snowboarder, let's talk about Olympic medals. Spoiler alert, here we go.

American alpine skier Julie Mancuso just settled for bronze in the super combine even after leading the down hill portion of the run. This after a U.S. sweep in a brand new snowboarding event, and quite an event it is.

Jamie Anderson dominated, winning gold for women in slopestyle, and Sage Kotsenburg, that's the snowboarder we're talking about, pulled off an incredible trick winning the same event in men's final, getting the first gold for the United States.

Rachel Nichols is live in Sochi following it all. I'll tell you, both -- all of the slopestyle performances, they're just amazing to watch, Rachel.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS: Yes, Kate, we are having so much fun with the snowboarders here in Sochi. I'm not sure what the French aristocrats who launched the modern Olympics would think of Sage Kotsenburg, throwing out gnarly and shredded on the middle stand, or Jamie Anderson, who likes to flash the peace sign, clutched with crystals around her neck, and thank her spirit grandma. But, hey, they are here and they are winners.

And it's only getting more exciting out on the slopes. The Americans do have their first ski medal. Take a look.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS (voice-over): It was a torrent of emotion on the mountain this morning for Olympic veteran Julia Mancuso. She blazed through the down hill portion of the combine and struggle in the slalom portion, but ultimately ended up winning a bronze medal, punching her fists in the air with glee.

Mancuso joins the American soared and twirled their way to gold. Thanks to slopestyle snowboarding, a new Olympic sport. On the 2,000- foot run, Jamie Anderson defied gravity with baffling acrobatics.

JAMIE ANDERSON, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It just felt so good to be able to do something I knew could I do. I believed it but just having that passion and determination to really do what I'm capable of.

NICHOLS: Anderson's win followed Sage Kotsenburg's victory on Sunday. Kotsenburg won thanks to a last-minute decision to do a trick he never even tried before, spinning four and a half times in the air.

Sochi slopes weren't without some American upsets. Veteran favorite Bode Miller ended the downhill in eighth place, looking utterly devastated as he cross the finish line.

And down at the figure skating venue, Russia dominated the team competition, with teen prodigy Yulia Lipnitskaya dazzling with a nearly perfect routine that ended with a mesmerizing leg over the head spin.

The U.S. wasn't far behind. Skating superstar Gracie Gold nailed all 11 jumps of her program, helping the U.S. secure bronze and even pulling off a photo-op with President Vladimir Putin.

But the most fuzzy photos may have been these of American figure skater Ashley Wagner.

Comparing Wagner's proud smile after there performance with a visibly shocked expression after her scores were announced.


BOLDUAN: You got to love her face. It tells the entire story from beginning to end.

Rachel Nichols, thanks so much, Rachel. They're covering it all for us.

Let's give you the very latest on the medal count and the medal standings, so far. Right now, Norway is in the lead with seven medals. United States, Canada and Russia all won a medal this morning. And now have five.

PEREIRA: That's my lucky number. U.S. and Canada, this desk, race to be finished.


CUOMO: We lost Rachel because power went out in her hotel, by the way. A little bit of window insight in some of the creature comforts or lack thereof in Sochi.

BOLDUAN: We'll go back to her when we can.

Coming up next on NEW DAY: the loud music murder trial. Testimony from the fiancee of the man who opened fire on a group of teens in an SUV. But did her testimony -- did her testimony -- did her taking the stand more helpful to the prosecution?

And actor Jason Patric is a desperate man, using every tool he's got to get the right to see his son Gus and trying to raise awareness about parental alienation. Now, his son's mother says not only can he not see his son, but he can't use his name or pictures either. Jason Patric joins us, ahead.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back. Testimony is resuming today in the so-called loud music murder trial. The case sparking renewed debate about race and Florida's self-defense law. Michael Dunn, you see him there, he admitted opening fire on an SUV of Black teenagers killing a 17-year- old. This weekend, explosive testimony from Dunn's fiancee who's tearful account could be a big problem for the defense. CNN's Tory Dunnan has been following it.


TORY DUNNAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After rare and emotional weekend session in which the prosecution called defendant Michael Dunn's fiancee to testify. Rhonda Rouer was visibly shaken as surveillance video from November 23, 2012 played in court.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God! Somebody is shooting. Somebody is shooting other car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you hear?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard pop, pop, pop.

DUNNAN: Minutes earlier, she and Dunn had stopped at a Jacksonville gas station and parked next to a red SUV with a group of teenagers inside.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did the defendant say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I hate that thug music."

DUNNAN: What unfolded next while Rouer was inside the store is at the crux of the case. Dunn told investigators there was an argument over loud music then said he heard threats, saw weapon, took his gun out of the glove box, and fired off shots in self-defense. Seventeen-year- old Jordan Davis was shot and killed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I went over this a million times. And when I put the car in reverse. But -- a shotgun come up or whatever -- it was fight or flight.

DUNNAN: Police say they never found a gun in the teen's red dodge Durango. Rouer and Dunn left the scene never calling police. They checked into a hotel and ordered a pizza. She testified they sat by the elevator truly believing police were coming.

Tory Dunnan, CNN, Jacksonville, Florida.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So, let's work through the hot points of this case. Joining us now to do that very well is HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson. Do you want prosecution or defense?


CUOMO: I'll do prosecution, but I'll let you give your opening statement. What is it? Defense goes first.



JACKSON: Listen, this is a question about a faulty investigation. It is a question about someone who really felt for their live. And they felt that fear owing to the fact that there was a gun. If the police had done an adequate and thorough investigation in that parking lot that the teens left, they would acquire the gun. They didn't do it. He was in fear. He did the only thing he possibly could do and that was to preserve his life by unfortunately taking another.

CUOMO: Ladies and gentlemen, it is nice to create facts, but you can always do that in the court of law. We only know what we show and there is no proof of a gun. But there are some things I want you remember. "I hate that thug music." That doesn't come from me. That comes from his girlfriend. That's what he said before this altercation began.

"Get in the car," he said to the girlfriend. He didn't say stay in the store. There's a dangerous situation going on. And of course, it was flee or fight. He says to himself that he had an option. How does he beat this case?

JACKSON: Chris, in real reality and in fairness, it's a very difficult case for the defense. For one, you point out in your opening statement, you can't create facts. And the fact is is that you want to create the diversion that there may be a gun and there was a faulty investigation because that's what you have. But even if there were a gun, Chris, it comes down to the point of this. Was that gun pointed in his direction? And if they had a gun, would they not have used it at that time? And so, what the defense is doing is they're attacking the investigation in order to create that illusion. Then the second thing that is critical for them to do is to put that jury into his mindset. What was he feeling? Was he in imminent fear for his life? Tough argument to make. But if it's one that they make and they make effectively, they may have a shot, I doubt it.

CUOMO: Got to be reasonably. You know, we're playing with the name George Zimmerman there about this being an analogue. You must remind people, there was a physical confrontation in George Zimmerman.

JACKSON: One hundred percent right.

CUOMO: There was a reasonable basis for fear. The jury found that. There was no witness here to corroborate as there was George Zimmerman about him being on the bottom at some point in the fight. And of course, what I think may be the biggest one, George Zimmerman after that situation called 911, during it called 911 many times.

JACKSON: Absolutely.

CUOMO: This man and his girlfriend --

JACKSON: Please, consciousness of guilt which is very critical for that.

CUOMO: As a rum and coke.

JACKSON: Oh, absolutely. And I also think, Chris, when you look at the testimony of his girlfriend, right? I mean, obviously, she wants to protect and help him. However, when you go to the point she's making, "I hate that thug music," what does that do? It gets us into his mind. He does not like this. He does not like them. And as a result of that, the prosecution exploits that.

Point number two, as to the girlfriend, his girlfriend, what does she say, they were drinking. Oh, he wasn't impaired. OK. Obviously, she's going to say that --


JACKSON: That's pretty significant. And so, when you put that, the girlfriend's testimony, fiancee, what have you, I think it's pretty compelling for the prosecution.

CUOMO: But one juror, if one juror says, I think there was a gun. I do think they got rid of it. They were kind of colluding, such an interesting irony in this case. The authorities on the scene don't treat the kids, the teenagers as suspects. They don't record witness statement because they were shot at. And one of them lost his life.


CUOMO: Now, that's being used in the case.

JACKSON: It is. Right. And you know what, it's being used by the defense because that's what they have --

CUOMO: And why didn't you treat them as suspects?

JACKSON: Yes. So, what the prosecution will do in flipping the script is to say there was no basis, too. Had there been a witness that would otherwise suggest there was a gun here, there was an object here, there was something here the police may have been on notice if there was something of evidentiary value to acquire in the parking lot. Now, what the prosecution needs to do is to suggest, of course, they left the scene.

What do people do when they're shot at? Do they stay and do they say we're going to die or do they attempt to leave? And they came back being responsible so that they can obviously communicate their story to the police.

CUOMO: Last point, important for people to know. We're in Florida. Stand your ground. Stand your ground was denied here pretrial. It wasn't allowed, otherwise, there'd be no trial.


CUOMO: Do you still need to prove that you couldn't get away in order to trigger self-defense?

JACKSON: Well, what you have to prove beyond that, it's not so much a retreat case, Chris. What it is, is an imminent fear case.


JACKSON: I feared for my life. I had no other alternative. I needed to do this. I had to do this. And if they could establish that, then you get somewhere. But on the facts of the case and as you pointed out, no physical altercation, not that you need one, but it certainly makes for more compelling argument for the defense had there been one and had there been no flight and had there been that 911 call. So, again, a difficult case. A case the defense is trying to make out but with great difficulty.

CUOMO: I don't even know of another case where someone came into a situation as an innocent, this transpired, and there was no contact to police afterwards. It's highly unusual.

JACKSON: It is unusual. Listen, people do things differently when they're under stress, under anxiety. Your reaction may be different from mine which may be different from many viewers. But if you put everything together in terms of believing that going to the hotel, the ordering the pizza, the drinking the wine, the driving back home, it just doesn't add up to someone who I'm fearful, wait for the police, and I'm going to tell my story.

CUOMO: I thought I was going to have high ground bringing the prosecution perspective, but you wound up doing both sides. Better than I did.

JACKSON: No. Never. CUOMO: That's right. Joey Jackson, thank you very much.

JACKSON: Pleasure. Always. Always.

CUOMO: Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Chris.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, actor, Jason Patric, fighting for custody of his son who was conceived through in vitro. Why the mother says Patric has no rights. Jason Patric will be here to give his side of the ongoing legal battle.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Welcome back to the show. Time for the five things you need to know for your NEW DAY.


PEREIRA (voice-over): One of the country's best college football players has acknowledged publicly that he is gay. Michael Sam made the revelation in an ESPN interview over the weekend.

Another winter storm is barreling towards the southeast. Atlanta is already salting roads ahead of time trying to avoid another massive problem after the city was shut down by ice some two weeks ago.

French president, Francois Hollande, arrives in the U.S. today. On Tuesday, he will attend the first French state dinner in nearly two decades. This afternoon, he tours Jefferson's Monticello Estate with President Obama.

West Virginia officials and a water company about to answer some tough questions about the chemical leak that left hundreds of thousands of people unable to use their water. The CDC and Freedom Industries, the company whose tank leaks, they won't be there.

And at number five, a New Jersey investigators looking into the Bridgegate scandal will meet today as the state's largest newspaper calling their endorsement of Governor Chris Christie's re-election bid a big mistake.


PEREIRA (on-camera): We always update those five things to know. So, be sure to go for the very latest -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thanks, Mich.

The custody battle between actor, Jason Patric, and his ex-girlfriend has gotten very ugly. Patric is trying a new tactic to get his son, Gus, back. A publicity campaign calling attention to his case but also the phenomenon of parental alienation in general. But his son's mother says you better not use the boy's image or name to do it, and she's trying to get the court's to back her up. This morning, Jason Patric is with us, but first, a look back at this difficult case which goes to the very meaning of fatherhood.


JASON PATRIC, ACTOR: I want to bring us all into the fold together so that we can fight this.

CUOMO (voice-over): Actor, Jason Patric, is taking his custody for his four-year-old son, Gus, to the next level with "Stand-up for Gas," a campaign, he says, is not just for himself but for other dads suffering parental alienation.

PATRIC: I just want you to know that I'm going to win this.

CUOMO: Now, Gus' mother and Patric's ex-girlfriend, Danielle Shriver, has filed a restraining order that would ban Patric from saying Gus' name or showing his face anywhere in public or in private without Shriver's permission, effectively killing "Standup For Gus."