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AMERICAN MORNING

New Developments in Duke Rape Case; Brutal Attack in Texas

Aired April 28, 2006 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: New developments in the Duke rape case. An old police report surfaces. Some surprising similarities to the current case.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: A brutal attack to tell you about in Texas. The word is the victim was trying to kiss a girl. Or was it a hate crime? There are the suspects. The teenager is near death. We'll tell you about this terrible attack.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, now here's a question you might not have thought of -- are gas prices too low?

We'll talk with a gas station owner who says exactly that.

How much does he think we should be paying? Is he being greedy?

S. O'BRIEN: Look at those numbers.

M. O'BRIEN: Ouch!

S. O'BRIEN: And we'll tell you about Prince Harry's heart of gold. The youngest of the British royals is now working on a new venture and many say it would make his mother proud.

Those stories all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Good morning.

Welcome back, everybody.

M. O'BRIEN: Good to have you with us.

I'm Miles O'Brien.

We're going to tell you about Rosa Parks and a pardon for her -- late.

S. O'BRIEN: Only 50 years later.

M. O'BRIEN: It might be high time, you could say, in that respect. We'll tell you about that coming up.

But we begin with a new chapter in the Duke rape investigation. It was written a decade ago. Apparently the accuser in this case made similar allegations 10 years ago and now both sides are assessing how this may impact the case that is currently working its way through the court system. CNN's Jason Carroll live now from Durham, North Carolina w more -- hello, Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Miles.

The new details come from an incident report, a police incident report filed 10 years ago by the accuser in the Duke lacrosse case. Apparently it was 10 years ago she told an officer three years before that that three men had sexually assaulted her.

The police report says: "The three suspects raped and beat her when she was 14 years old for a continuous time."

She names the three men in that police report that we took a look at. The names are blacked out. She said that one of the people who attacked her was someone that she knew. The officer asked her to write a time line of what happened. She did that. But no charges were filed and it's unclear why, but the young woman's mother told "Essence" magazine that the reason why her daughter did not pursue charges was because she felt intimidated -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Jason Carroll in Durham, North Carolina, thank you very much -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Gauging gas prices across the country today. AAA's daily fuel report has been updated and the national average is -- drum roll, please, Jerry (ph).

(DRUM ROLL)

S. O'BRIEN: Thank you.

It's $2.92 a gallon of regular unleaded. A month ago, it was $2.50 a gallon. A year ago, it was $2.23. Ouch, that hurts.

Any minute now we should be getting more word on a major pump profits. Chevron releasing its first quarter figures sometimes -- some time, rather -- before the market opens. Yesterday, we got those numbers from Exxon Mobil. They announced more than $8 billion in first quarter profits. Chevron is expected to be oh, somewhere around half of that number.

High gas prices are helping New Jersey to consider some statewide changes, including decreasing the maximum speed limit to 55 miles an hour and ending the ban on self-service gas stations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JOHN CORZINE (D), NEW JERSEY: We will start with select sites, if not on all of the turnpike positions, over a period of time, and in some local neighborhoods, north, south and central -- to see whether these price savings actually flow through to the consumer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

S. O'BRIEN: That was Governor Corzine there. He says consumers could save as much as $0.06 per gallon.

Opponents, though, say, well, then gas station insurance rates will go up. And, of course, that comes back around to consumers eventually.

New Jersey and Oregon are the only states that do not allow self- serve stations.

Protests over gas prices led to kind of an interesting ride to school for some kids in Salt Lake City. Look at those pictures. Of course, mom and dad had to walk them, it looks like. They came in on horseback. They came in on horseback as part of their protest. A radio station contest urged parents to try to save gas. The ride, of course, took a little bit longer. No one's galloping through town there. Only one horsepower per kid. Oh.

M. O'BRIEN: But, what, you know, oats per gallon, right?

S. O'BRIEN: Oats per gallon.

You would have to...

M. O'BRIEN: Or miles per oats or whatever?

S. O'BRIEN: You would have to crunch the numbers on oats per gallon and the cleanup, if you know what I mean.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, boy.

That would be the fundamental rub.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes, it would.

M. O'BRIEN: You wouldn't want to do that in New York.

S. O'BRIEN: No, you wouldn't.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: President Bush, of course, wants Congress to let him -- his administration raise mileage requirements for cars. They can do that now for pickups, vans and SUVs, but not for cars.

White House correspondent Elaine Quijano is live for us at the White House -- hey, Elaine, good morning.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Soledad.

With those high gas prices persisting, President Bush and lawmakers want to show that they are taking steps to alleviate those high costs. So on that Gulf Coast swing yesterday, President Bush, in Mississippi, encouraged Congress to give him the same authority to set fuel economy standards for cars that he now has for light tracks.

Right now, the standard for cars is 27-1/2 miles per gallon. That's been the number since 1990. Administration officials say they want to take a look at changing the standards in any way that is safe and cost-effective.

Now, that's just one idea being talked about in Congress. And, of course, Soledad, important to keep in mind that all of this talk about what to do about gas prices taking place as lawmakers, particularly, are looking ahead to those midterm elections come November -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, yes. Everybody's talking about that, for sure.

You know, it's a long-term solution, though, what the president's recommendations are -- I mean if they get approved, eventually, right?

QUIJANO: Well, that's exactly right. And, in fact, that's the key question, really, what can be done in the short-term?

The Bush administration has acknowledged that this is a problem that did not happen overnight and cannot be fixed overnight.

Nevertheless, they are looking at the various ways that they think they can, perhaps, alleviate the problem over the long-term.

But when it comes to this specific solution or this specific area of changing fuel economy standards, it'll take, one, a long time to get a law like that in place; and then, number two, a long time to get it enacted for automakers.

So the bottom line, consumers are going to continue to see those high prices at the pump even if this does go into effect -- Soledad.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, that's the bottom line, which brings us back around to the midterm elections, doesn't it, in any way?

Elaine Quijano for us at the White House.

Elaine, thanks -- Miles.

M. O'BRIEN: Traffic on the main East Coast interstate moving again in Brevard County, Florida. The north and south bound lanes of Interstate 95 closed yesterday after a brush fire jumped across the highway. It reopened just a short time ago.

The 850-acre fire now mostly under control, as you look at live pictures from our affiliate WFTV out of Orlando. No reports of any injuries. Obviously, still burning somewhat there. But as we say, under control.

Reynolds Wolf in the Weather Center watching Florida and other places for us -- good morning, Reynolds.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good morning.

Good morning.

And Florida is not going to have much like in terms of rainfall until we get to Monday of next week. So it's going to be really an area to watch in terms of wildfire potential.

(WEATHER REPORT)

M. O'BRIEN: If some senators get their way, you can kiss FEMA good-bye. Some might say good riddance.

But what does the guy in charge currently at FEMA have to say about that? I guess you can predict the answer somewhat. But we will ask him and you'll hear, in just a moment.

S. O'BRIEN: Also, gas prices, as we all know, going through the roof. We're going to talk to one gas station owner who says raise the roof -- the prices should be even higher.

M. O'BRIEN: That's not lire there. Those are dollars, $4.26. Wow!

And later, those wrinkle-free suits that Andy and I tried on yesterday, well, we've worn them, we've washed them and good job to Conray O'Brien (ph) on the camera work there.

S. O'BRIEN: She's good.

M. O'BRIEN: And -- yes.

Do they still look good, is the question?

We'll have the answer for you in a little bit.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: A brutal, a horrible attack to tell you about out of Texas. It's left a 16-year-old Hispanic boy near death. He was beaten and then sodomized by two white teenagers. The attack happened over the weekend in Spring, Texas. That's just north of Houston.

Eighteen-year-old David Henry Tuck and 17-year-old Keith Robert Turner have been charged with aggravated sexual assault. Tuck is being held without bond.

Mike Trent is the Harris County assistant district attorney.

He's prosecuting the case.

He's in Houston this morning.

Thank you for talking with us, Mr. Trent.

Appreciate your time this morning.

This is...

MIKE TRENT, PROSECUTOR: Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: ... is such a horrific crime. The details, honestly, are just -- just -- are brutal. And I want you to tell what you can about this case, because I think it's important that people know what happened here.

TRENT: Well, you're correct that it was a very brutal assault. We know that Mr. Tuck was wearing steel-toed boots. He kicked and stomped on the victim. Mr. Turner was participating all the way. And at some point we think Mr. Turner got a, I believe, a plastic PVC pipe that may have been sharpened at one end -- I'm not saying intentionally sharpened, but it had a point at one end. They inserted this into his rectum and shoved it as far as they could. And then Mr. Tuck proceeded to kick it in as far as he could.

It's -- it's pretty horrific. They also attempted to carve something on his chest with a knife. We're trying to get more details on that.

S. O'BRIEN: They poured bleach on this kid. They damaged his internal organs when they shoved that pipe into him. I mean the details are horrible.

What's the motivation? I mean was it racially motivated? We said the two teenagers, the older two, are white. We showed their picture. The young man, the boy, is 16. He's Hispanic.

Is it a racial incident or was there another motive?

TRENT: Well, I think the severity and the nature of the attack may have been worse because of racial prejudices on the part of the defendants. I don't that the very beginning of the attack was racial particularly. But there's no question that they were venting quite a bit of hatred in their hearts.

S. O'BRIEN: I've read a report that the 16-year-old was trying to kiss a 12-year-old girl at this part.

Is that accurate?

Have you confirmed that?

TRENT: That's what investigators have told us and witnesses have said. We don't think it was anything more sinister than that. But Tuck and Turner took offense to that, as well as, I think, just some animosity toward the victim that may well have been racial in nature.

S. O'BRIEN: I read a report that said that there were witnesses to this beating, at least a couple of witnesses...

TRENT: That's right.

S. O'BRIEN: ... who did nothing to help.

Is that right?

TRENT: That's right. That is correct. There, obviously, we're not charging anyone else with anything, but you do certainly have to wonder why anyone would not report that for as long as they did.

S. O'BRIEN: And this boy lay on the ground for in excess of 10 hours?

TRENT: I don't know the exact number -- time period, but that sounds accurate.

S. O'BRIEN: The same report said he has a 50-50 chance of surviving.

Have those numbers improved at all in his favor?

TRENT: I don't have an...

S. O'BRIEN: Do you think he's going to die?

TRENT: I don't have an update on his condition this morning. We're obviously hoping that he makes a full and speedy recovery. But it's not too often you're in the hospital for this length of time and you're not significantly improving. He just suffered massive internal injuries, not only from the pipe, but doctors apparently told investigators at one point that they suspected some kind of toxicity in his internal organs that may have been caused by the introduction of some foreign substance, which makes me wonder if they didn't pour bleach down the pipe, as well.

S. O'BRIEN: Tell me something about this community, Spring, Texas.

Has there -- what's the reaction been there?

Tell me a little bit about this community.

Are people supporting your prosecution or are you finding that it's -- it's difficult to get people to weigh in on what happened?

TRENT: I haven't really been in contact with anybody in the Spring community. It's considered a fairly nice suburb. There's -- I don't consider it a hotbed of racial tension. We have gotten some calls with the D.A.'s office, not specifically from Spring, but elsewhere, but they are supportive and, in fact, insistent on prosecution.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, gosh, Harris County Prosecutor Mike Trent joining us this morning.

What a horrible story.

What a -- what a horrible, horrible story.

Thank you for being with us.

Appreciate it.

TRENT: You're welcome.

Thank you.

S. O'BRIEN: I hope that boy recovers as quickly as he can. TRENT: Me, too.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, we certainly have heard from senators -- turning a little bit here -- about the plans, their hopes to scrap FEMA, start all over again. We haven't, yet, though, heard from the guy in charge of FEMA.

This morning we're going to talk about what he thinks about the proposal.

And if you're fed up with high gas prices, wait until you meet our next guest. He's a gas station owner. He says un-nnh. Prices aren't high enough. He'll explain his side of the story coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

S. O'BRIEN: No great big surprise to New Yorkers that gas prices here are running higher than the national average -- $3.16 compared to $2.92 nationally.

So, what was a Brooklyn station owner thinking when he started charging $4.26 for a gallon of regular gas?

After making headlines last week, the prices came down, but this morning, in fact, the prices back up again, higher than they were before.

Joining us this morning is the owner of that gas station, David Goldsmith.

Brooklyn, right, David?

So I just want to make sure I don't drive to your station. I'm trying to avoid those high prices today.

Good morning.

Thanks for talking with us.

DAVID GOLDSMITH, GAS STATION OWNER: Good morning.

How are you?

S. O'BRIEN: I'm doing great, thanks.

How are you?

I have to imagine that most of your customers are not happy when they pull up.

Are they?

GOLDSMITH: Well, I mean people are a little shocked then. But they've been -- this station has always had, for the last probably 30 years, some of the highest prices in the area just because we're a very small station. We only have two pumps, small capacity. So they're used to the higher prices.

A lot of people are kind of -- it's interesting. The reaction has been I hope you're not going to close, because I'm probably -- one of the -- I'm just one of the few stations left in the area.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, I see.

So you're kind of the only choice there. $4.14 was the price for a gallon of regular yesterday.

What are you charging today?

GOLDSMITH: No, no, that's a -- we -- it went up to $4.15 today.

S. O'BRIEN: Oh, so it's up to $4.15 today?

GOLDSMITH: Yes, $4.15 for regular full-serve.

S. O'BRIEN: For a while, you lowered the price. I mean you had this big article in the "Daily News," the local paper here.

GOLDSMITH: Oh, yes. Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: And then you lowered the prices.

GOLDSMITH: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Well, who put the pressure on you?

GOLDSMITH: We -- we got, you know, pressure from our supplier, basically, I mean -- who was getting pressure from Gulf corporate, I think. It's, you know, the gasoline retailers and the distributors are the ones that are taking the heat for this, but we all know who's making the money here. And they're not looking good. You know, they're making record profits. You know, they're all posting records and yet all of us out here are being asked to shave our margins, keep our prices low, that they could keep the volume up.

S. O'BRIEN: So you think you're a victim as much as anybody else who's paying these high prices.

Is that what you're saying?

GOLDSMITH: Oh, without a doubt. I mean my profit margin -- last year I met with my accountant a few months -- about a month ago and he said, you know, you really should get out of the gas business because you're -- even at these prices, you are losing serious amounts of money.

And we're, you know, I run-a repair shop that does a lot of business, and unfortunately it's my guys working in the repair shop that make it possible for us to sell gasoline to the community. Because otherwise they could...

S. O'BRIEN: Huh, the gas is the loss leader for you? GOLDSMITH: Yes. Yes. And most gasoline retailers don't make money on their fuel. So when people see the, you know, prices at the pump go sky high, it's be -- they're working on very slim margins and they look to make money and the gas -- the oil companies, you know, see that -- they expect us to make our money in other ways -- selling repair services or selling cigarettes and coffee and...

S. O'BRIEN: But explain the big percentage to me. Because nationwide the average, as we've been reporting all morning, is $2.92.

GOLDSMITH: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Your price, at $4.15, is 42 percent higher than the nation's average.

GOLDSMITH: Right. Right.

S. O'BRIEN: Your price is 39 percent higher than the higher average already in New York City.

GOLDSMITH: Sure. Sure.

Well, like I say, my price has always been higher than most, basically because if you look at our station, you know, we're a two pump operation. It's a bit of a dinosaur. How many stations do you see that are this small? We have very small tanks and my suppliers pretty much are forced to sell to me at a very high price just for freight because...

S. O'BRIEN: Is your gas -- is your gas going to go to $5 a gallon?

GOLDSMITH: Well, if the oil companies keep -- they feel the need to make more money, yes, they will, because they can't really control me and I have to sell it so that I can stay in business. So I have to sell it so that I don't -- at least break even with it. And if they raise me, I'm going to raise it. That's what I'll have to do. It may force me to close, but, you know, that would be, actually, to me it would be almost like letting go of a boat anchor, you know?

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

GOLDSMITH: I'm not in it -- I'm not in the gas business for the money. And nor are, you know, my colleagues in the business. We're -- we make the money other ways.

S. O'BRIEN: David Goldsmith joining us this morning from Brooklyn.

David, thanks for your time and thanks for the little explainer.

GOLDSMITH: Sure.

S. O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Andy Serwer, you know, because he says I'm not in this gas business for the money. And it's sort of completely the opposite of what big oil... M. O'BRIEN: It's love.

ANDY SERWER, "FORTUNE" MAGAZINE: He's doing it for the love of it.

M. O'BRIEN: For the love.

S. O'BRIEN: No, but his point is...

SERWER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: But he's not making a profit.

SERWER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: It's really his loss leader there. And it's the oil company execs, is what he's pointing the finger at, as they're in the business for the money.

SERWER: Everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else. And it's true, gas stations, you know, a lot of these convenience stores obviously make money selling drinks and cigarettes, much more so than they do selling gasoline.

But people are making -- gas station owners are making some money. They don't make huge amounts of money on gasoline. Oil companies are making money. There is no question about that.

We were talking yesterday, Soledad, about Exxon's profits and I want to expand on that a little bit -- $8.4 billion. And we were also talking about passing through costs and if Exxon -- now, let's get -- OK, we're going to jump right to the shark.

This $8.4 billion, if you look at their earnings report, only $679 million of that comes from downstream U.S. operations. That's selling gasoline in the United States, OK? Less than 10 percent of their profits.

Now, I'm not saying they're not making a lot of money, but they're making money a lot of other different ways. They're selling oil, crude oil overseas to other oil companies. You can see here, $6 billion of it comes from upstream operations. That's producing and selling petroleum.

S. O'BRIEN: But upstream...

M. O'BRIEN: So, so...

S. O'BRIEN: But upstream in the U.S.?

SERWER: Yes, but they could be selling that -- they're selling crude oil in the U.S. to other oil companies, a billion dollars of profits. It's not gasoline to consumers. But that would make prices at gas stations go up. Yes, you're right about that.

They're also selling chemicals, a billion dollars of chemicals. That's more than domestic gasoline sales in the United States.

And then we talked about passing through those costs -- how could their profits go up if they were just passing along costs, which is the question you were raising yesterday, Miles.

And, you know, I'm not saying they're not raising prices with higher oil prices. I think they are doing that, to a degree. But they're also making profits a lot of different ways. They're cutting costs. They're also selling different products.

So you have to look at the total mix. I'm not trying to be an apologist here...

M. O'BRIEN: Well, all right, let me ask you about this...

SERWER: They're making more money than ever. They're making money from selling gasoline. But they're also making money a lot of different ways.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, the economist we had on from the American Petroleum Institute yesterday said it's actually better that there are fewer companies.

SERWER: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: In other words, you know, bigger is better. There are savings implied in all of that. And I've always felt if you have more companies, you have more competition and better prices.

What do you think?

SERWER: Well, I don't -- I don't necessarily buy that...

M. O'BRIEN: You don't?

SERWER: ... what he was saying.

M. O'BRIEN: Oh, what he's -- yes.

SERWER: No, because, I mean, it's not necessarily true. I mean and you'd think that if there were fewer companies, there would be less competition, which would make prices go up.

On the other hand...

S. O'BRIEN: And one company should really just be great, right?

SERWER: Right.

S. O'BRIEN: I mean under that theory...

M. O'BRIEN: Exactly.

S. O'BRIEN: ... then you could amass everything and have...

SERWER: Yes. Well, the Soviet Union tried that, some would say.

S. O'BRIEN: Exactly.

M. O'BRIEN: It didn't work so well.

SERWER: Yes.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes.

SERWER: You can go on and on with this, obviously, but we have to cut it off at some point on this.

S. O'BRIEN: I'm mad about paying money for gas like this.

M. O'BRIEN: Right.

SERWER: Well, I think we all are. And they're making money, there's no question about that.

S. O'BRIEN: Right.

M. O'BRIEN: At least it's not nail polish costs.

SERWER: Let's go back to that one.

S. O'BRIEN: Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

S. O'BRIEN: ... $700 a gallon or something.

SERWER: Yes, right.

S. O'BRIEN: Andy, thank you.

SERWER: You're welcome.

M. O'BRIEN: Don't tell that guy in Brooklyn. He'll start selling nail polish there.

SERWER: Yes.

M. O'BRIEN: Still to come on the program, a Spanish version of the "Star Spangled Banner." We'll play it for you and tell you why it's stirring up a little controversy.

And later, we're near the moment of truth for those wrinkle-free suits Andy and I put on.

SERWER: There they are.

M. O'BRIEN: Do you like my runway walk?

S. O'BRIEN: Handsome.

M. O'BRIEN: We've worn them, we've washed them, we've dried them.

Do they live up to their billing?

You will have an answer shortly on AMERICAN MORNING.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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