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Search for Missing Malaysian Plane Continues; UConn Defeats Kentucky for NCAA Championship; Oscar Pistorius Tells His Story

Aired April 8, 2014 - 07:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Because they need to hear from his perspective, because his perspective on what happened that night is really the crux of this case.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he's the only one who really know, right? And part of his delay is a problem, because defense counsel is having trouble getting their visuals in place. They want to show the window. Why? It's wooden. They have to go through a three-step analysis for this judge and the jurors. Could he hear that window close? It was wooden. It was loud. Was he asleep? Was he not? Should he have heard it circumstantially to what was going on? And then, did he actually hear it? So even that window is going to start a story. They wanted all these graphics there to accompany all this testimony. They weren't ready. So it was a good time to break for lunch.

When they come back and they pick that up, it is probably going to be the most important day of testimony for Oscar Pistorius. It will then be followed by the prosecution. They are taking notes in there as well, I can promise you that. We'll pick it up as soon as they come back for it.

But right now we want to reset what our top story of the morning, the search for flight 370. The search area has been downsized dramatically. To put it in perspective, it was as big as Texas, now it's the size of Houston. But that's still about 30,000 square miles. The search for flight 370 all about pinging and ticking this morning. Those are search teams trying to find those sounds that are supposedly emanating from the black box. The race is against the battery life. Over the weekend the ticking of the clock was growing deafening. We thought they were about to find it. An extraordinary race against time is about to become more daunting in the batteries in the plane's black boxes have gone dead.

BOLDUAN: And 14 planes, 14 ships are in the search zone at this very hour looking for any sign of debris also from flight 370. A confirmed sighting could be critical, and surprising this this point that they have not seen any debris field. At the very same time sophisticated listening devices are deep below the surface trying to pick back up pinger noises that may no longer have any functioning batteries. Our coverage of this search for flight 370 is going to start once again this hour with Erin McLaughlin live from Perth, Australia, the heart of the search effort. Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, that's right. They have not found any debris from the missing plane nor have they been able to reacquire that signal. But there has been absolutely no letup in this search. Today all eyes on that Australian vessel. The Ocean Shield still out there equipped with the American towed ping locator combing the waters in a ladder like formation trying to detect any other signs of those black boxes. They've been unsuccessful so far, but officials here in Perth saying they will exhaust every effort to try and make that detection.

It's critical to being able to narrow down a potential search field so that they can deploy that Blue Fin 21, that American provided underwater autonomous vehicle, to be able to go down and locate wreckage. But in the absence of more clues, in the absence of more information, Angus Houston, the man responsible for this international search effort in a press conference earlier today saying that we could be looking at a very, very, very long time before they're able to locate this wreckage. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right, Erin, thank you for the update from Perth for us this morning.

So for more on the search for flight 370 let's dig in deeper with our analysts, Shawn Pruchnicki, air safety expert and aviation teacher at Ohio State University, and Mary Schiavo, CNN aviation analyst and former inspector general for the Department of Transportation. Good morning to both of you. Mary, I want to pick right back up where Erin left off talking about the effort to reconnect with this ping. This morning the fact that they have not reconnected with any signal, is that -- does that worry you or is that just do you think part of due course in this search?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, there are two worries, and one is worse than the other. One worry is, of course, that the battery has died. And that means that they're going to have to go back to where they heard it before that does leave you with, you know, a five-mile radius or potentially a few miles more. But you have the general area where you heard it, and that means the search is going to be longer with the submersibles, but you're in the right area.

The other worry, this worse worry, is that they really didn't have a black box pingers. They were on to some other signal and now that signal, whatever it was, has moved on in which case we would be back to square one. I don't think that's it. I think they have the signal from the pinger, particularly since they had two separate ones which would be the CVR and the flight data recorder, the FDR. If it's something else we're really back to square one.

BOLDUAN: You don't want to hear that at all. Shawn, I want you to weigh in on this because Angus Houston, the man leading the search coordination effort, he said clearly in a press conference that they are going to search with the tow pinger locator. They're going to search for that ping absolutely no chance -- until there's no absolutely chance that the devices are still transmitting. How long does that continue, do you think? How long do they keep hope alive that the device is still transmitting?

SHAWN PRUCHNICKI, AIRLINE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR: Well, as we've all said before, that, you know, 30 days is what the -- from a regulation standpoint required to be active. Typically they go beyond that. Typically once we get out to around five or seven days beyond that, so around 35, 37 days, then we're starting to think that even though every battery will be a little bit different in its capabilities, probably by that point in time we've exceed pretty much 99.9 percent of all the batteries out there. So, you know, once we get seven days beyond then at that point in time it's extremely unlikely we will still be able to receive a signal.

BOLDUAN: At that point, Mary, what do you do next? Do you -- since there is no debris field to work with, you've got no other clue other than this ping that you no longer have, do you send in the underwater submersible vehicle and hope for a miracle?

SCHIAVO: They don't just have to hope for a miracle. They send in the underwater, the submersibles where in the range where they heard the pings. In other words, as they were approaching the ping, it got louder and then it got softer as they went away. So they think they have a general idea where it was. So they're going to take that area of the ocean floor and divide it up into segments and they're going to map the ocean floor and cover that area where it would reasonably be expected that the wreckage could be if that's where they heard the pings. That's painstaking. If they were right on top of it and if they were fortunate enough to have the exact coordinates so even then, in the best case scenario, it's going to take several days.

But if they were on the fringes of the pinger, you know, out towards the edge of the circle, if you were from the radius of the pinger, then it could take not weeks but months. And they will just map the ocean floor as if you're crossing off box necessary a cross word.

BOLDUAN: That will be a painstaking process if they cannot narrow this down any further.

One thing that has bothered me quite a bit, Shawn, Mary and I have talked about this quite a bit, is the fact that there is no debris field. They have not yet found debris field. What do they need to do to try to locate it at this point? One thing brought up by other experts is that there was a cyclone that went through this region, went through this area some two weeks ago. How would that have impacted how they're going to conduct the search going forward?

PRUCHNICKI: Well, I think not only because of that but the time factor in general, we really are doing this backwards, which makes it even more extraordinary. What they're going to need to do is work the problem backwards in that once we find or can narrow down an area of boxes then to start looking for the wreckage.

You know, we need to be mindful that even if we lose the pinger signal and we continue -- and then end up using the side sonar to start scanning for that, the boxes are pretty small. We don't necessarily have to find the box per see right away. But if we can start to find larger pieces of debris then that will help us narrow down and understand where the debris field is, and then a refocused search for the individual boxes. Something else that I wanted to mention that I'm not sure we have talked about in the past is that there have been case where's these pingers are actually removed from the boxes. So during the accident sequence they get ripped off. Usually they're found still fairly close, certainly still close to the wreckage field, but just because we can hear pinger and possibly might be able to locate it doesn't mean at that moment we found the box. The box could still be several hundred yards away if not more, so still yet another layer of concern. We're still a long ways from finding a really meaningful data, meaningful information to help out.

BOLDUAN: Adding yet another variable to this unprecedented search. We'll continue to watch it. Another day to try to reconnect with that ping and search continues. Shawn, Mary, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: Michaela?

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Kate, thank you so much. Let's take a look at more of your headlines now. Russia says civil war could bring out in Ukraine if Kiev doesn't pull back forces from the eastern regions. Ukrainian forces are fighting pro-Russian takeovers of government buildings in three cities. An argument broke out in Ukraine's parliament today over who is to blame for the expanding crisis, with one lawmaker defending the demonstrators.

At the White House, President Obama will mark national equal pay day with executive actions aimed at narrowing the wage gap between men and women. He will sign two orders, one barring federal contractors from punishing employees who discuss their salaries with co-workers. The other will require contractors to submit additional salary information to the government including breakdowns by gender and race.

Major recall from Ford -- 386,000 Ford Escapes from 2001-2004 are being recalled to fix rusting on a sub-frame. The issue can cause steering problems. In addition, 49,000 Ford Fusion, Lincoln MKZ, Escape, and C-Max cars dating back to last year are also being recalled to replace seat back frames that were not welded properly. So that is an alert for those Ford customers out there. Chris?

CUOMO: People more keenly aware these days of what's going on with cars as we follow the GM recall situation.

Let's switch gears here. A year ago the University of Connecticut wasn't even eligible for the NCAA tournament. They had academic problems. They were restricted. And this morning they are on top of the world. UConn beat Kentucky last night 60-54. They were underdogs by the way, and now national champs. By the way, Huskies' fourth title overall, second in four seasons, just for you out there who are saying, oh, they didn't have any right to be there, like me.

On the UConn campus celebration turned to mayhem. This happens too often in these situations. Police had to make 30 arrests. Look at these fools swinging that stop sign around. Let's bring in Andy Scholes live for us in Arlington, Texas, with more on the big win. Lucky you weren't there on the campus. How was it? How was the game?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: You know, it was an outstanding game. And what a run we've seen from these UConn Huskies. Chris, no one thought they could do this, not even many people thought they could take down the freshman phenoms from Kentucky, but they continued to prove all their doubters wrong, and as a seventh seed, the highest seed to win this tournament in nearly 30 years.

As the championship game, 42 and 43 were in the house to watch, presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Watch the veteran Huskies jump on the Wildcats early, and they would never trail in the game. UConn backcourt of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright were fantastic. Napier, the team's senior captain, led UConn with 22 points, and he was named the Final Four's most valuable player. The Huskies, as you said, Chris, not even allowed in the tournament last year due to those academic problems. Now they are top dogs, bringing home their fourth national title since 1999.


SHABAZZ NAPIER, FINAL FOUR MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER: We've been doubted for so long. And we just kept grinding and pushing. You know, it's just so special.

KEVIN OLLIE, UCONN HEAD COACH: Somebody told me we were Cinderellas. I was like, no, we're UConn. I mean, this is what we do. We are born for this. We are bred to cut down nets.


SCHOLES: After the game on the podium Napier actually called out the NCAA, saying, we're the hungry Huskies. This is what happens when you ban us. We've been working two years for this. Guys, you know he had been waiting a long time to say that.

BOLDUAN: Had that speech prepared it sounds like. At least it was a good game, well, for some.

CUOMO: Andy, was my Lamar Mundane reference, was that lost on you? Do you remember Lamar Mundane?

SCHOLES: Right over my head.

CUOMO: Right over your well croft do. Google it. That's who Napier was last night when he rained down that 30 footer. He was like in the logo of center court.

BOLDUAN: OK, OK, I'll look it up in the break it.

CUOMO: It kills you as a defender to see a guy hit from that range like it was nothing. Change the game, I'm telling you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, we have the technology to find flight 370. But there are so many variables standing in the way. What's slowing down the search effort? We're going to explain later this hour. CUOMO: And it could be the most important moment of Oscar Pistorius' life, pivotal testimony as blade runner tells his side as the night he killed his model girlfriend. We're going to bring you the testimony when it restarts. Stay with us on NEW DAY.


CUOMO: Welcome back to NEW DAY.

This morning, Oscar Pistorius is telling his side of the night he shot and killed his model girlfriend. The track star detailing every single moment leading up to the actual shooting.

Let's listen to a portion of his dramatic testimony so far. Keep in mind Pistorius chose not to be on camera, but you can obviously hear him. Take a listen.


VOICE OF OSCAR PISTORIUS, FATALLY SHOT GIRLFRIEND: Just before I got to the -- just before I got to the passage of the bathroom I heard a door slam, which could have only been the toilet door. I couldn't see into the bathroom at this point. I could hear the door slam. And for me confirmed that there was a person or people inside the toilet -- or inside the bathroom at that time.


CUOMO: All right. Now, the woman at the center of your screen there is the judge. And because of that, it is actually helpful to have lawyers analyze this because that's what the judge is. This is not a regular jury, as you know.

So with the court and break right now, when they come back we're going to pick up his testimony live.

Let's bring in Sunny Hostin, former prosecutor, obviously a great legal analyst.

You take the prosecution; I'll take the defense.


CUOMO: Let's vet the testimony so far.

Point one, I'm afraid. I'm afraid. I've been afraid since I was I was a kid. I lived in a dangerous area. My mother had a gun under her pillow. I was always being woken up in the middle of the night. I have no legs. This is my nightmare. And I want to protect the woman I love the most, and when I heard that window slam, it was the beginning of the worst night of my life. Compelling in terms of setting the stage for my fear and almost inability to act in these circumstances.

HOSTIN: I think it's compelling in terms of his fear. Because, you know, everyone has been talking about the fact that he did not have his prosthetic legs on, which means he could certainly be in this state of terror. At least --

CUOMO: Which you denied at first, and have now given up to my side. You now agree with me, prosecutor. You disagreed in the beginning.

HOSTIN: Well, yeah. I agree with it, especially because we've heard sort of the forensics of the angle. And also, he got into the courtroom on the witness stand and took his legs off.

CUOMO: That's right. So right now, we believe he is in the court next to the actual bathroom door without the prosthetics on and his gym shorts to approximate it. Impressive to the judge? Who knows? Hard for the family to watch. That's for sure. So my next point --

HOSTIN: And hard for Oscar Pistorius, I might add.

CUOMO: It is. He's having a hard time with the testimony.


CUOMO: How that plays for the judge, we don't know. Although, there was a nod to his authenticity when she allowed that he seemed exhausted and tired and called a break yesterday.

HOSTIN: That was remarkable. And I really think that we need to look at that because you have a judge listening to all the testimony, but she's listening to the testimony much like the jury in the United States would be listening to the testimony. And she said he appears to be exhausted. That means that she found him to be credibly exhausted, realistically exhausted. And I really thought that that was a nugget, sort of a window into whether or not she believed his testimony. And I think she's leaning towards his believability.

CUOMO: So I hear the window slam. It's wooden, which means I can hear it slam. Before you tell me you can't hear it, it's a quiet window. And I'm in a panic. I know exactly what it is. It's a burglar.

The first thing I do, prosecutor, the first thing I do is I tell the woman I love to get down. I whisper to her, get down. And then I make my way over. I don't know where my legs are. It's dark. It's dark in the room. I can't see anything.

I shout to the intruder, "Get out! Leave us alone!" And then I shout to Reeva, "Call the police!" I'm aware of her, but I can't see her. It's dark. So I don't know where she is, and I'm petrified. So I get my gun, and I move towards the door to see because I hear the bathroom door slam shut.

Where is the problem with my story?

HOSTIN: This is really problematic for Oscar Pistorius.

CUOMO: Where?

HOSTIN: He's been wearing prosthetic legs, Chris, since he was a year old. You mean to tell me that he -- and they're right by his bed. You mean to tell me that he doesn't t put them on? That doesn't make sense.

The other thing that doesn't make sense, and I think just in a real world sense, if you are truly in fear, the one person that you want to protect is in bed next to you. You mean to tell me you don't touch that person? You don't lean over? You don't make sure that she is in bed right next to you and not the person that you're hearing in the bathroom? That doesn't make sense. It doesn't make common sense. And I think that that is the significant problem with Oscar Pistorius' story.

CUOMO: Let's play that part of the sound right now so you can get a sense for yourself of exactly how Oscar Pistorius laid it out. Listen. This is how he describes hearing the rustling in his bed.


VOICE OF PISTORIUS: That's the moment that everything changed. I thought that there was a burglar that was gaining entrance to my home. I was on the side of the room where you first have to cross the passage which leads to the -- which leads to the bathroom.

I think initially I just froze. I didn't really know what to do. I'd heard this noise. I interpreted it as being somebody was climbing into the bathroom. There's no door between the bathroom and my room. It's all one -- there's a passageway, but there's no door. There's a toilet door, but there's no area between me and bathroom. It's one -- one room.

I literally thought that somebody -- if they were at the window to where the passage entrance of the passage was, could be three or four meters, they could be there at any moment. And the first -- the first thing that ran through my mind was that I needed to arm myself, that I needed to protect Reeva and I, they needed to get my gun.


CUOMO: So there it is, the actual words, "I had no time to do anything else," you with the checking and the asking and the talking. There's somebody who is coming into my bathroom to kill me. I've lived in fear of this my entire life. I have to get my gun so I can protect us. It's dark, and I have no legs on.

HOSTIN: But the problem is his gun is under his bed where his prosthetic legs are and the same bed that Reeva Steenkamp is in. It just doesn't really make sense. And I think when you're --

CUOMO: I'm focused on the threat. They're right there in the bathroom, three or four meters away.

HOSTIN: I think if you have the time to go to the bed to get your gun, you have the time to put your legs on, and you have the time to make sure that Reeva is in bed and safe. It just -- his story falls apart right then and there.

CUOMO: Only if you can put a whole lot of other factors on the menu. That I have a reason to want to kill her; that I have a reason to want to mistake that it's her; that there's absolutely nothing reasonable to my story; that there's only one other possibility that makes any sense, proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which is that I intended to kill her or I lost it that night. And that's why he's reading the texts saying we loved each other; I got the card with Ozzy on it.


CUOMO: She bought be a nice gift. I bought her a nice gift. We're in love. Why would I want to kill her?

HOSTIN: But there's all this testimony of -- I think that indicates it was a volatile relationship, that he's a volatile person, that he was jealous, that they were arguing that night, and that's the one thing that he sort of glossing over in his testimony. And I suspect on cross-examination we're going to hear a lot about it. You've not one, you've got not two, you've got several witnesses, ear witnesses saying, "I heard blood curdling screams. I heard an argument." What does he do with that? What does he do with that?

CUOMO: It was me.

HOSTIN: That doesn't -- the, "I scream like a girl when I'm panicked" just doesn't, I think, make a lot of sense.

CUOMO: Beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why this testimony is so important. There's only one man who knows what happened, and he's on the stands right now.

HOSTIN: Yeah, he's the only person alive that knows what happened.

CUOMO: That's exactly right.

The only one who can testify. But certainly the prosecutor is listening. What attitude will they take? Where will they find the holes? You're laying out some good ones already. We'll keep listening this morning, Sunny.


CUOMO: Thank you very much.


BOLDUAN: All right, we're going to be coming back to the Pistorius trial the moment it resumes. It's in -- it's adjourned at the moment. But we're also going to go inside politics in just a moment where it's equal payday. The pay gap between men and women is a real thing, and it reaches even into Barack Obama's White House.


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. Almost half past the hour. Let's take a look at your headlines.

Search teams still unable to relocate those pinger sounds in the hunt for flight 370. The search zone narrowing to 30,000 square miles; 14 planes, 14 ships, looking for debris today, sophisticated listening devices under the water. But the batteries in the plane's black boxes may already be drained. An unmanned sub is at the ready if another signal is detected.

Russia says Ukraine's use of force in eastern regions could lead to civil war. Ukrainian forces have been trying to fend off pro-Russian takeovers of government buildings in three cities. Protesters still appear to have control of at least one building. Earlier today, there was a fist fight in Ukraine's parliament after one member suggested Ukraine was to blame for the crisis.

Right now, diplomats from six countries are in Vienna for talks with Iran on its nuclear program. All five permanent security council nations plus Germany are involved in this third round of talks. They want to run to scale back its nuclear program, so it can't quickly develop a weapon. Tehran says its program is peaceful and wants more sanctions lifted. July is the deadline for an agreement, and they are still far apart on key issues.