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Plane Hijacked; Arrested In Sochi

Aired February 17, 2014 - 05:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Breaking overnight, drama in the sky. A pilot hijacks a passenger jet with 200 people on board, and it flies to Geneva. We have the very latest on this story breaking overnight.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Accused of murder. A 19- year-old comes forward with a new claim. She claims she killed at least 22 people. Why police are taking her very seriously?

BERMAN: And an awful winter just getting worse. More than a foot of snow falls on New England, and now more in the forecast. Indra Petersons watching the next storm that is poised to strike. Wipe that smile off your face.


ROMANS (on-camera): Thirty days until spring, America. Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN (on-camera): And I'm John Berman. About 32 minutes past the hour right now.

ROMANS: We start with a breaking news this morning from Geneva where an Ethiopian Airlines pilot is now in police custody after apparently hijacking a jet so he could seek asylum. Here's what happened. The 767 with 200 people on board was on route from Addis Ababa to Rome when police say the co-pilot diverted it to Geneva. The co-pilot diverting it to Geneva while the pilot was in the bathroom.

Once they were on the ground, the co-pilot apparently climbed out the cockpit window and out of the plane on a rope. Passengers were taken off the plane, their hands up, but police say the passengers on board were not threatened. All are OK. We're going to continue to follow this developing story all day here on CNN.

BERMAN: This morning, both the prosecution and defense in the so- called loud music trial are planning their next move after the jury delivered a partial verdict following 30 hours of deliberations. Michael Dunn was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting that left teenager, Jordan Davis, dead.

This followed an argument, apparently, over loud music. But the jury was hung on the first-degree murder charge, also lesser included murder charges. This led to a mistrial. Reaction from both sides, a mixture of relief and disbelief.


CORY STROLLA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It has not sunk in. Even when he sat next to me, he basically said, how is this happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are so grateful for the truth. We are so grateful that the jurors were able to understand the common sense of it all, and we will continue to stand, and we will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.


BERMAN: Now, prosecutors say they do plan to retry Michael Dunn for first-degree murder. In any case, Dunn faces 60 years in prison for the attempted murder convictions when he's sentenced at the end of March.

ROMANS: From search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery. The bodies of two missing skiers lost in an avalanche, they have now been found. The two were part of a group of seven experienced back country skiers caught in a massive snow slide in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado. It happened Saturday night.


ROD FENSKE, LAKE COUNTY SHERIFF: When the avalanche started, it started up above and then came down, went up a little bit, fractured, then came down the mountain about half a mile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they actually trigger the avalanche being up there?

FENSKE: I believe it did, yes. It was just unfortunate what happened. They had all the right equipment, it just went bad.


ROMANS: Three other skiers in that group suffered injuries in the avalanche. They were hospitalized. Two of them managed to escape unharmed.

BERMAN: This morning, police say they're taking very seriously a new claim in a murder case from Pennsylvania. Nineteen-year-old Miranda Barber (ph) and her 22-year-old husband are accused of killing a 42- year-old man they met through Craigslist. Well, now, Barber is telling a local newspaper that she is part of a satanic cult and claims she has killed at least 22 other people around the country from Alaska to North Carolina.


FRANCIS SCARCELLA, DAILY ITEM REPORTER: She's very meek, very mild, very -- she's very low voice. She never hesitated once. She never gave the impression of it was a rehearsal. I said, "Miranda, you know, as you sit here, do you have any remorse whatsoever?" And she said, "none."


BERMAN: Barber offered no details of these killings other than that she claims she joined this cult in Alaska at age 13. The FBI is now offering to help with any investigation.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight, Venezuela expelling three American diplomats. President Nicolas Maduro says the three were kicked out of his country for conspiring against his government. The announcement comes after the state department questioned Venezuela's crackdown on anti-government protesters last week and its decision to issue an arrest warrant for a top opposition leader.

BERMAN: In New England this morning, thousands still without power after more than a foot of heavy, wet snow blanketed Massachusetts and Maine. It was worst along the coast with 50-plus miles an hour winds that took down trees and power lines. The power company is hopeful customers will see their electricity turned back on at some point today.

ROMANS: And this morning, golf lovers saddened by the news that the legendary Eisenhower Tree at Augusta National is gone. It was so badly damaged by an ice storm last week, it had to be removed. The 65-foot loblolly pine stood alongside August 17th fairway for decades. President Eisenhower hit it so often, he tried to get club officials to chop it down in 1956 while he was still in office.

They refused. Ultimately, I guess a higher authority than the president of the United States got it done.

BERMAN: It's so sad to see that tree gone. Such an iconic.

ROMANS: Here we go again, another storm coming together right now and set to drop more snow this evening. Indra Petersons tracking this storm. OK, so, I mean, I'm resigned to it actually, you know? I'm not surprised, but how bad will it be?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, this is going to be a little system. It's not a huge one, but do you guys think this is a bad winter? I mean, look at the numbers, guys. We're talking about New York City now being the eighth snowiest since we've been keeping records. Talk about Philly, Indianapolis, all of you seeing over 50 inches of snow this season.

You guys are now the third snowiest since we started keeping records. So, yes, I'd say it's pretty bad, especially considering it's my first time living in seasons. Thanks! All right. So, yes, four to six inches up towards Minneapolis, Chicago also looking for the same thing there, Pittsburgh about two to five inches, then overnight as the storm makes its way in towards the northeast, about one to three inches for New York City and in through Boston.

The timing of it right now, already seeing that snow up towards Minneapolis, Chicago as well, and even St. Louis looking for the concern of freezing rain this morning. There you go, kind of seeing it push into the Ohio Valley tonight. And then tomorrow morning for a commute time, that's where we're looking for the snow to be falling in through D.C., also New York City, then kind of clearing out by late day and kind of moving in towards New England, moving out of New England by the evening tomorrow.

So, that's the timing on it. But here's the good news we've all been waiting for, the change. And wow, have we been waiting for it. Yes, we're going to finally see the jet stream lift up, which means warm temperatures starting to move in. Going to feel so much better.

Still a little bit below normal today, but a quick change, especially in through the south, temperatures a good 10, even 15 degrees above normal, which also does mean a lot of snow melt and flooding concerns, but I will take snow melt right now. I'm good with it.

ROMANS: I know. What happens with the snow cave in your backyard?

BERMAN: slush. It's going to be a slush cave in the backyard.

ROMANS: Slush cave.

PETERSONS: New York City's already a slush cave.


ROMANS: Thanks, Indra.

All right. Overseas markets higher this morning. Stocks in Asia and Europe getting a good start to the week. But the stock market is closed here in the U.S. Today, of course, it's Presidents' Day. Stocks making a comeback so far in February, reversing big declines for the first month of the year. Last week, the best week of the year for stocks. That's not saying much. The Dow, NASDAQ, S&P 500 all gaining two percent or more.

We're going to be hearing a lot about how the U.S. consumer is feeling this week. We've got household names like Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom and Priceline all set to report earnings. So, that will be the next kind of stimulus, I think, for the market.

BERMAN: All right. New this morning, a study looks at the lingering effects of childhood bullying. The study published today in the journal "Pediatrics" says those who were bullied for a period of time as children were most likely to have poor mental and physical health well into their teens. This includes suffering from depression and low self-esteem. The researchers tracked thousands of kids from three big cities at different times in their development, in the fifth, seventh and tenth grades.

ROMANS: And what really surprised me, it's a big study. What really surprised about that was that big percentage of kids by tenth grade who said they had been bullied at some time during their academic life. That's what really surprised me.

BERMAN: You know, over half, right?

ROMANS: Right.

BERMAN: Almost more -- I mean, it's an awful thing.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, arrested in Sochi. An activist holds up a sign and winds up behind bars. Could it be the start of an international incident? That story is next.


BERMAN: The Olympics in Sochi entering their final week today with a lot more medals set to be award and new controversy over Russia's anti-gay law. An Italian television host and a former member of parliament has been arrested after challenging that law by holding up a sign reading "gay is OK." Nick Paton Walsh live in Sochi. Nick, tell me what happened here and what the reaction was.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, Vladimir Luxuria was the first transgender person to hold a petition in the Italian parliament but is now a prominent gay and transgender rights activist here. As you say, she held up that sign. According to her accounts, police tried to take it from her. She didn't want that to occur, and then she was detained for a brief period of time.

Now, this is where, of course, it gets controversial, because the Olympic committee was asked about this and they have, in turn, asked the police and said the police have told them they have no such record of any such event. So, given the scrutiny and focus on the Kremlin's attitude towards gay rights here, this incident is bound to play out in the days ahead, exactly what Vladimir Putin doesn't want, given how he's trying to keep an apolitical, smooth atmosphere here, John.

BERMAN: That was the kind of controversy people thought was inevitable when these games were beginning. Nick, I need to ask you, it looks beautiful where you're standing right now. Looks like, you know, the height of summer, at least early spring. I understand some events have been delayed because of the weather there?

WALSH: The weather's been all over the place, John. Just a few days ago, we drove up to the hills, very little snow to be seen apart from the area where it was laid out. Now, the issue is fog. Now, you can't really blame the Kremlin for that. That's not something you can predict for choosing to hold the games near a tropical area, but it has had an impact on events today.

We're seeing the male snowboarding cross delayed until this afternoon and we're seeing the biathlon 15-kilometer put off for a day. So, a real impact on events here, but perhaps, this is simply nature, rather than the questionable decision to hold winter games in the only place in Russia where you can't guarantee snow this time of year -- John.

BERMAN: You can't really do the biathlon if you can't see the target through the fog. All right. Nick Paton Walsh for us in Sochi. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: Let's take a look at what's coming up on "New Day." Chris Cuomo joins us with a little preview of your very revealing interview with George Zimmerman, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, how are you doing, guys? Happy Monday. You know, with the Michael Dunn verdict, there are issues in the case there and in the George Zimmerman case that go beyond the facts of the trial. So, the timing really couldn't be better. We're going to be talking about the Michael Dunn trial, how the jury may have arrived at what's being called a split decision or an impartial verdict, attempted murder, but not murder for the life that was taken.

What does it mean about those self-defense laws? And of course, when you talk about self-defense laws in Florida, you can't not talk about George Zimmerman. He's the man at the center of the debate, but we have never heard from the figure of a major criminal trial since the verdict. And so, he sits down with us, talks to us about the issues that are involved in his own case, regrets he may have, what life is like for him now, which is another important part of the analysis, what happens in cases like this after a verdict.

Is there really punishment? What are the consequences? And I think what will be interesting for people, guys, is not so much what he talks about, but what he cannot talk about. This is a man who's been given a lot of power by people in terms of what his actions represented and what his motivations were.

So, on that basis alone, I think it's a pretty interesting interview, but we're going to have a lot of smart people on today talking about the issues that have been raised by this Michael Dunn verdict and whether or not people under the law in Florida can get away with murder.

BERMAN: Serious question right now and a lot of people asking, Chris. Can't wait to see that interview. Hopefully, answer some of the questions that people have right now.

Coming up, the peace talks over Syria, they've fallen apart. Now, the blame is flying from the Obama administration and at the Obama administration. We'll have the latest next.


ROMANS: Breaking overnight. A new condemnation of the Assad regime in Syria by secretary of state, John Kerry.


ROMANS (voice-over): He's blaming the Syrian government for this weekend's breakdown of talks aimed at ending the war there. The secretary writing that while the opposition put forward a roadmap for negotiations, the government continued to attack civilians. No word yet if both sides might meet again for a third round of talks.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest supporters of U.S. action in Syria is blasting the Obama administration for not doing more to stop the bloodshed. Senator John McCain telling CNN's "State of the Union," U.S. policy has been a failure and the administration must revisit all of its options for removing Assad from power. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: There are viable options. There is a viable free Syrian army. There are people who -- there's groups that have joined together against these extremists, ISIS, radical al Qaeda extremists that are there. There is still viable opposition that we can help and assist. We can do that. And to do nothing, of course, will see a further deterioration and a regionalization of the conflict.


ROMANS: McCain quite concerned. He said what's happening in Syria is destabilizing the entire region, and that will eventually mean the U.S. will have to get involved.

BERMAN (voice-over): This morning, there is a new U.S. push to stop Uganda from implementing a law criminalizing homosexuality. The president of Uganda could sign that law as soon as today. It's a law that President Obama condemned over the weekend, calling it an affront and danger to the gay community in Uganda and a potential complication to Uganda's relationship with the United States.

National security adviser, Susan Rice, spoke this weekend with Uganda's leader, but no word yet on whether he might change his mind about this law. The U.S. up until now has been one of Uganda's biggest financial backers.

In Ukraine this morning, there are no protesters at the city hall in Kiev. It's the first time that has happened in months. The demonstrators ending their occupation in an amnesty deal that will clear them of all criminal charges in exchange for giving up their protests. Protesters have been on the streets since December, upset at Ukraine's president and his close ties to Russia.

BERMAN: Followers and fans of his hit TV show today are remembering Jamie Coots. He's a Pentecostal pastor and reality TV star famous for handling poisonous snakes. Coots died over the weekend after being bitten by one of those snakes during a service. He refused treatment. His son told the "Associated Press" his father had been bitten before, did not expect the severe reaction.

ROMANS: All right. The popular online coupon company, Groupon, may need to brush up on its American history after it mistakenly sent out a presidents' day promotion honoring Alexander Hamilton. Groupon referred to Hamilton as, quote, "one of our greatest presidents." Hamilton was the first treasury secretary but was never a president.

He does, however, appear on the $10 bill and is considered the founder of the nation's financial system. So, there's that. And there's also maybe, I don't know, do they did it on -- a little PR?


BERMAN (on-camera): I think this whole thing is a little bit of a joke, and they're loving the PR. You know, they get all kinds of notes. They're responding to requests for the media by saying, you know, we're going to stick to our story, you have your opinion and we have ours.


BERMAN Things like that there. So, we all need to take the joke.

All right. Seven minutes before the hour.

Coming up, shipment delay. Delivery companies are running way behind.

ROMANS (on-camera): That's what happened to my roses you sent me.

BERMAN: I sent you flowers, really, I did. The weather stole them! The story in "Money Time," next.


ROMANS: Three minutes to the top of the hour. Welcome back to EARLY START. It's "Money Time," Monday edition. A great start for the week for stocks overseas. Asia and European markets all higher. The U.S. stock market closed for Presidents' Day, but it's following Friday's 126-point jump, so take the pause while you've got it.

It's been a crazy start year to -- start of the year for stocks after a brutal January. Stocks have now taken off in February. The S&P 500 is now down just slightly for the year and not very far toward a record high.

It's going to take a lot more than flowers and candy to make up for the botched Valentine's Day 1-800-flowers caused for many. That company spent all weekend apologizing to customers on Twitter and Facebook for gifts that never showed up. The company says, quote, "they're committed to their 100 percent smile guarantee." 1-800 flowers blaming Friday's winter storm, and so, are truckers and shippers where backups at ports are leading to costly delays across the country.

The "Wall Street Journal" forecasted this unusually harsh winter will trim growth to the U.S. economy by three-tenths of a percentage point.


Tax season is here. We all dread it, but depending on where you live, some of us may hate it more than others. A government survey looked at tax burdens, everything from property sales tax and income tax found families making the average U.S. household income pay the highest taxes in -- drum roll please -- Bridgeport, Connecticut, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and Columbus, Ohio.

If you want to lower your tax burden, move west. Cities with the lowest tax burden are Cheyenne, Wyoming, Las Vegas, Billings, Montana, Anchorage and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We're taking the full show to Vegas next week.

BERMAN: It's a tough commute from Sioux Falls, though -- (CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: And the weather --


BERMAN: All right. Thank you so much for watching. NEW DAY starts right now.


CUOMO: Breaking overnight, a co-pilot hijacks his own plane, forcing it to land in Geneva. The big questions, how was he able to seize control of the plane and why did he do it? We have breaking details.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mistrial. The man accused of killing a Florida teenager over loud music is convicted on lesser charges, but the jury deadlocked on first degree murder. Did the state's self-defense laws confuse the jury? We have the fallout.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Speaking out. George Zimmerman opening up what he now says about the night that he killed Trayvon Martin. Does he have any regrets? Plus, we ask about his string of run-ins with the law since his trial and his nasty divorce.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to "New Day." It's Monday, February 17th, six o'clock in the east. And we do begin with breaking news. An Ethiopian Airlines jet headed for Rome (ph) hijacked, but here's the twist, the hijacker, the plane's own co-pilot. Let's get right to Rene Marsh with the latest developments. Rene, what do we know?