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More Angry Words at Scott Peterson Sentencing Wednesday; Anthrax Scare

Aired March 17, 2005 - 08:30   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. Just about half past the hour on this AMERICAN MORNING. Rob Marciano is in for Bill Hemmer today, who is on a little vacation.

O'BRIEN: Well, I don't know about that. Kidding. Yes, he does. Bill, we miss you, but have a nice, restful vacation.

Just a few hours ago, did you see this, Scott Peterson transferred to San Quentin Prison where he's going to serve out his death sentence. Court TV's Catherine Crier wrote a book on the Peterson investigation. There she is. She's in to talk to us about this final chapter.

MARCIANO: Also, the anthrax scare that locked down three mail facilities this week. Lives are depending on the tests done in these cases. Why do they come out wrong? We're getting to the bottom of that with a former director of FBI labs.

First off, though, two ladies wearing festive green, one of which is Carol Costello.

O'BRIEN: Top of the morning to you, Mrs. Costello.

MARCIANO: What's happening over there with the headlines.

COSTELLO: You have the better last name for it, that's for sure. O'Brien's better than Marciano and Costello.

O'BRIEN: We're all Irish today, Carol, even if you're Italian.

COSTELLO: That's true, but Costello could be an Irish name, I've heard.


COSTELLO: A lot of Costello's in Ireland, yes. But this one's Italian.

Now in the news, a possible development in the search for a missing 9-year-old Florida girl. Detectives have issued two arrest warrants for a man named John Couey. He's a registered sex offender who lived near the Lunsford home. It's not clear whether Jessica Lunsford knew Couey, but the Citrus county sheriff says the man's behavior has raised some concern. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHERIFF JOHN DAWSY, CITRUS CO. FLORIDA: We do believe when you put all the pieces together, it raises some tremendous concerns for us, and that's the reason why we've made him a person of interest -- the fact that he wasn't supposed to be at the residence, the fact that one of the relatives lied to us, the fact of his criminal record, him leaving under an alias, and that coupled with the fact he knows he wants to speak with us and he's now avoiding us really does raise some red flags.


COSTELLO: Authorities say John Couey is not a suspect, just a person of interest at this point.

A new study claims Americans may die sooner if they don't start losing weight. Researchers say obesity may cut the lifespan of the next generation by as many as five years. Details appear in today's "New England Journal of Medicine." But other researchers say the projection may be overly pessimistic, and is only a possibility.

And as you know, Major League Baseball going to Washington. Lawmakers want to know if the game is doing enough to keep out steroids. Among those subpoenaed to testify today are six players, including Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco. The hearing is set to begin in just about two hours -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Watching that. All right, Carol, thanks.

Robert Blake is a free man today. He shook as he was acquitted of murder Wednesday. Blake had been under suspicion since his wife was shot to death in May of 2001. Jurors said the evidence was flimsy, and prosecutors could, quote, never connect all the links in the chain. Blake says the defense cost him $10 million, and now he's broke, and had some angry words for those who did not support him.


ROBERT BLAKE, ACQUITTED OF MURDER: You've interviewed my friends. You've interviewed producers that worked for me. You've interviewed distant relatives and close immediate relatives. You've interviewed, hey, I lived in his house, I know him inside-out. Well, guess what? They're all liars. And about half of them are commode scum.


O'BRIEN: More angry words at the Peterson sentencing Wednesday. Scott Peterson was taken overnight to San Quentin. He was given a death sentence for the murders of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. One jurors called him a jerk. The victim's father told Peterson he'd burn in Hell. Her stepfather says justice was done.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: Our family's going to make it. We're stronger because of this. And Scott got what he deserved.


O'BRIEN: Court TV's Catherine Crier wrote about the Peterson case in her book. It's called "The Deadly Game." Joining us this morning.

Nice to see you again.


O'BRIEN: Let's start, because there are so many cases going on, let's go back and start with Robert Blake. Shocked, surprised?

CRIER: No. In fact, the verdict came in during my show on court TV, and I had a big panel. We all went around and all said, this guy's probably going to walk. And it's not a question of did he do it; it's a question of could the state prove it.

O'BRIEN: So it was less the state -- the jurors had to believe he was innocent and more that the case was a bad one?

CRIER: Well, and the crack I made on air was there may be somebody sitting on a beach in Brazil that helped him out right now, but it's a question of could the state bring together enough evidence, and they simply couldn't.

O'BRIEN: All right, we're also talking about Scott Peterson. And in your book, you have fascinating things, I think, about that particular case.

At the same time, no murder weapon ever found. There's no eyewitnesses. That's very similar to the Robert Blake case, and yet, obviously, it's a completely different verdict. Why?

CRIER: Well, because there were so many pieces. When you went back to Amber Frey and the comment he made and she got back on tape, "I lost my wife." So we've got that early on. We've got the buying of the boat, the making of the concrete anchors, which you could not have done at 3:00 in the morning after an altercation at the house and still put her in the bay by 1:00 p.m. The concrete anchors would not have held her down. So you've got all that leading up to the fact, of course, that she ends up in the bay. No stranger on stranger crime would result in the perpetrator driving her around for some period of time and ultimately trying to get her out in the middle of the bay. That's the body you find on the side of the road or you find in the park.

O'BRIEN: How do you think Laci Peterson, at the end of the day, was killed? Walk me through what some of the detectives told you.

CRIER: Well, it was quite extraordinary, because I ended up with tens of thousands of documents, and hundreds of photographs. So I was really able to almost moment by moment track the investigation, to read what their comments were after they would interview witnesses or find pieces of evidence. One of the detectives, Al Brochini, actually had the photographers that first night take a picture of the bed. And Laci -- Scott never said Laci made the bed. It was kind of thrown together. But there was an indentation across the foot of the bed. If you take a nap, you're sleeping with your head on the pillow. If you sit down, we know what that indentation looks like. But he was firmly convinced she'd been suffocated or strangled and laid on the foot of the bed, resulting in what you call a soft kill, so there would be little, if any, forensic evidence.

O'BRIEN: There was also -- and you write about this in the book, another affair, a woman named Janet, who decides to surprise her boyfriend, who she thinks is single, Scott, so she swings by his house. What happens?

CRIER: I had the opportunity to go back all the way to high school and look at some of these relationships, and there were two other affairs that we found. Some unconfirmed are out there, but two other affairs during the marriage, and the pattern that emerged was quite extraordinary. He shows up with the roses, and the wining and the dining.

O'BRIEN: Greatest boyfriend ever, except he's married.

CRIER: Mr. Romantic. Talking about moving in, bringing his dog, Mckenzie, you know, his only companion, right, with him, so at the time, Laci is living at home, he's at school trying to finish up his degree, living with two other guys. She thinks he's single. Goes to visit him in the wee hours of the morning one night. Surprise. Walks in, and he's in bed with this lovely brunette. Now all Scott does is say, I'm sorry, while she's screaming. His roommate runs in, grabs her, pulls her out. She goes, he's cheating on me! The roommate looks at her and says no, he's cheating on her -- he's married.

O'BRIEN: What was Scott Peterson's reaction to that ?

CRIER: What would a normal person do, right? Well, the same reaction that we got with Amber, the same reaction we got as the investigation was conducted, cold, callous. That's what you call a classic sociopath. It's not just the one characteristic of no conscience, no guilt, no remorse, but the manipulative, the pathological liar, the glib, charming, relatively intelligent guy. If you Google sociopath and you look at the characteristics, you will see Scott Peterson.

O'BRIEN: He matches every one.

CRIER: Absolutely.

O'BRIEN: The book is fascinating.

CRIER: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: It's called "A Deadly Game." Thanks for coming to in to talk to us about it. CRIER: Good to see you.

O'BRIEN: Catherine Crier from Court TV -- Rob.

MARCIANO: Detroit, the Motor City, it's known for Mustangs and Thunderbirds, but it's a cougar making news this morning. In Sterling Heights, Michigan, there's a cougar that's on the loose. Officials estimate the big cat weighs between 40 and 60 pounds. It was seen wandering in a field near homes and businesses. Animal control officials are still trying to track it down. Maybe you have plans to walk your dog or just head out to work or school.


O'BRIEN: Well, today, obviously, St. Patrick's Day, and some holiday items were on David Letterman's mind last night.


DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE SHOW" HOST: Well, this is exciting. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, Martha Stewart will be wearing her green electronic ankle bracelet. Very nice accessory.


And out in California, earlier today, Michael Jackson paid off a leprechaun.


O'BRIEN: Not all that funny today.

MARCIANO: You got to miss watching that show, working this shift.

O'BRIEN: Well, you tape it -- TiVo. TiVo's changed my life.

MARCIANO: You're so far ahead of the curve.

Well, let's talk about Martha Stewart. She's just out of prison obviously. She asked for some free money, and she gets it. Andy's going to explain just ahead, as he minds your business.

MARCIANO: And this week's anthrax scare was a false alarm. How did the test results get botched? That's next on AMERICAN MORNING.


MARCIANO: This week's anthrax scare at the Pentagon is exposing gaps between the military's procedures and that of the rest of the federal government when it comes to handling such biohazards. The scare closed three mail facilities, some 900 workers began taking antibiotics.

Professor Randall Murch of Virginia Tech is the former deputy director of the FBI laboratory. He joins me to talk about exactly what went wrong.

Good morning, professor.

In laymen's terms, explain what anthrax is, and how is it tested?

RANDALL MURCH, FMR. DEP. DIR. OF FBI LAB: Anthrax is a natural disease organism that occurs in nature, often in the soil, and produces a disease in animals that can, in fact, produce a disease in humans. It's called, therefore, a zoanatic (ph) disease. It's produced by a bacterium known as basciullus anthrasus (ph) that produces spores, which is the most common form of living in the soil, and also transmission from person to person, or from a substance or a material to a person.

MARCIANO: How exactly is it tested? And how can it be that two independent labs were wrong in this week's earlier tests?

MURCH: Well, that's a very good question. And I think it definitely bears further examination and inspection. Usually what happens when an alarm is sounded often by a sensor or a detector, which is an instrument which is placed in a building, in an air vent, in the environment, which is set up to detect airborne pathogens, once that alarm sounds, a presumptive test, a field test is done to determine whether or not the alarm is, in fact, a valid alarm.

And sometimes when that happens, there are false-positive results. But before a call is made or concern increases even further, samples are taken to a laboratory and tested by standard validated protocols, such as those that have been produced and tested, validated by the Centers for Disease Control, and are present, available, in 140 public-health laboratories throughout the country.

MARCIANO: There's been talk of contamination of the original sample, and that's why both labs may have incorrectly tested this product. Does that sound like a likely scenario to you?

MURCH: It is. I mean, I think there are four possibilities. Contamination is one of them. And certainly sample contamination, perhaps contamination that occurred from the natural background from the original environment got into the sample. It was even detected by the original sensor that caused the alarm. Secondly, contamination in the laboratory. First, the contract laboratory that first tested the sample that was collected, and then that contamination could have been carried along with the sample up to the laboratories at Fort Detrick. So that's one of several possibilities.

MARCIANO: Well, there's good news, in that the tests were wrong. But the other question is it took over three days for them to sound an alarm on this. I mean, what would have happened if the tests were correct and there was anthrax all over the place, and maybe as much as 900 people were affected?

MURCH: Well, we'd have a very serious public health concern, and also we would have lost time had this been a terrorist attack; we'd have lost time for the government response. MARCIANO: Fair enough. Professor Randall Murch joining us from Washington D.C. Thank you very much for your insight this morning -- Soledad.

MURCH: Thanks for having me.

 O'BRIEN: Ahead this morning, Martha Stewart gets out of prison and somebody gives her $3.7 million. Andy explains that. He's "Minding Your Business," up next on AMERICAN MORNING. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Martha Stewart is going to get help some paying her legal bills, as she apparently takes up right where she left off.

Andy Serwer is "Minding Your Business."

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: Yes, a lot of mysterious Martha news, if you ask me. I don't get it. But as you said, that's the way it's always been with her.

Let's take a look at the markets, though, first of all, Jack, stocks traded down yesterday. Oil prices higher, putting a chill in the markets. You can see a lot of red ink there. Toys 'R' Us may be being bought. We'll be talking about that later on in the program.

Martha Stewart is returning to court this morning to appeal her conviction. Now, this is strange, because she's already served her sentence, right? I don't understand why people do this, because I guess they're trying to clear their name.

But this is her up at her house. And any moment, she will be down there in court.

Now as far as her legal bills go, Jack, apparently she's going to be getting some relief in that department. Her company is going to be paying $3.7 million of her legal fees. Now, I don't get that at all.

CAFFERTY: Stock holders ought to be happy to hear that, right? Come on.

SERWER: Yes, it's just remarkable. They have this thing called directors and officers insurance, which is supposed to pay for legal bills if you get in trouble on the company's time, on the company's dime. But what she did had nothing to do with her company.

CAFFERTY: No, it's a personal stock transaction.

SERWER: I mean, I don't get it at all.

Another mysterious thing, get this -- another Martha Stewart movie in the works. According to "The L.A. Times," you remember that little gem they put out in 2003, starring Cybill Shepherd as Martha. Well, CBS, her former broadcast partner, is looking to do another movie, according to the newspaper, and guess who they're in negotiations to have playing Martha Stewart? Cybill Shepherd. I mean, you know, if it worked -- it was the highest-rated made-for-TV movie that year, so it did pretty well. No word on who is going to be playing Peter Bacanovic, her broker. I say Rob Lowe. How about Rob Marciano?

MARCIANO: I was a broker in my time.

SERWER: Oh, you were?

MARCIANO: Yes, way back when, before I could get a job on TV.

SERWER: Well then.

MARCIANO: Should have stayed with it.

O'BRIEN: Probably not a role you want to take still.

SERWER: Maybe not.

Anyway, Jack, back to you.

CAFFERTY: All right, time for "The Cafferty File." If you'll forgive me, I'm going to indulge myself just for a minute here. There's an outfit called "Hoop Scoop" magazine that annually comes with their list of the top seventh-grade basketball players in the country. My oldest grandson, Jake Clure (ph), lives in Tucson, Arizona is number 193 on the list.

Jake, my suggestion is I'm very proud of you, skip high school, go right into the NBA. Sign a big contract. Get me how the out of here.

SERWER: He's the next Lebron James.

CAFFERTY: That's pretty good, though, seventh-grader, and he's a helluva ballplayer. Forgive me for taking up your time with that, but I just wanted to give him a little shout-out there because he's a great kid.

All right, on to the rest of the pile. The unnaturally spongy sugar-filled Twinkie is the subject of a Pittsburgh photography exhibit. Members of the American Society of Media Photographers, Pittsburgh chapter asked to incorporate the Twinkie into their art for the society's object show. And we have pictures. This is actually pretty lame. I thought it was better at 5:30 this morning when I decided to use this. It's picture of a Twinkie in a tree.

O'BRIEN: It's cute. It's like how you get Twinkies, you pick them off a tree.

SERWER: Stone Twinkie.

CAFFERTY: Twinkie standing in a Stonehenge.

Twinkie makeover.

SERWER: Who is that?

CAFFERTY: And the last snack. It's an interpretation, of course, of Da Vinci's "The Last Supper." Twinkies turn 75 in May.

My favorite story in a long time. Most kids take a bus to school. Third-grader Sajay Beard (ph) ride the family mule. This is a picture of her. She's nine years old. She lives in North Dakota. She rides Ruth (ph) a half hour to school every day. She parks Ruth right here, ties her to a tree near the swing sets and monkey bars. Sajay visits Ruth during recess, feeds her corn, sweet peas. Her four classmates in a one-room schoolhouse think Sajay's mode of transportation is really cool. Sajay's dad, Marty, says he feels safer with his daughter riding that mule to school than if she were on a car or a bus.

Pale Male and Lola starting a family. New York City's famous red-tailed hawks reportedly caring for three eggs in their nest, located on top of a luxury upper east side co-op. We shot these pictures yesterday. They were, I don't know, down at the doctor getting a sonogram or something. Lola laid the eggs a week ago, after a month of messing around all over the upper east side of Manhattan. They were spotted everywhere doing what birds do in the spring. We started reporting this story last December. The co-op board, you'll recall, at 927 Fifth Avenue, ordered the hawks nest removed, said it was a hazard. Well, the public got really steamed over this, demonstrations and all kinds of carrying on, people like AMERICAN MORNING reporting on it every day, what an outrage it was. And the building's architect quickly rebuilt the hawks' home.

Now if all goes well, Pale Male and Lola's eggs should hatch around April 15th. We'll keep you posted.

O'BRIEN: It's a typical New York City story. You finally get approval by the co-op board, and you can move in and start your family. That's the way it is here in the big city.

SERWER: Time to expand the nest, though. That's a problem.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Jack.

In a moment, today's top stories. Just an hour until the start of congressional hearings on steroids and baseball. Six players subpoenaed. Who is going to show up? Will they talk? That's ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


MARCIANO: As part of CNN's anniversary from time to time, we look back at people in the news over the past 25 years. This morning, Jane Goodall takes a look at people "Then and Now."


UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: She entered the jungle of Tanzania in 1960, a young British woman with dreams of living with animals and writing books about them. Dr. Jane Goodall has done that and so much more. She has devoted 45 years to studying chimpanzees in Africa, forever changing the science of primates.

And founding the Jane Goodall Institute, which funds research and conservation. She's earned hundreds of awards, and honors and written more than a dozen books. But somewhere along the way, the primatologist became a peacemaker.

JANE GOODALL: We're not the only beings on the planet with personalities, minds and feelings. And let's live in a world that has respect for other lifeforms, but also for each other.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Goodall is now a grandmother and turned 71 this year. She still spends 300 days a year on the road, lecturing and inspiring people to look beyond themselves. She says her top priority is her institute's worldwide youth program, Roots and Chutes, which promotes community service and giving children hope.

GOODALL: You make a difference. Your life matters. And it's up to you to save the world. And each one of us have this mission.


MARCIANO: Throughout the year, we're taking a look back at the major stories for the past 25 years. And tune in a week from Sunday for "MELTING POINT: TRACKING THE THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING." That's Sunday, March 27th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

We'll be right back.



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