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John Mark Karr in a Los Angeles Prison; Routine Police Call Erupts into Violent Shootout in Texas

Aired August 21, 2006 - 08:00   ET


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: John Mark Karr is in a Los Angeles prison right now, after a luxurious flight back to the U.S. We'll give you some of the details.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: A routine police call erupts into a violent shootout in Texas. We're going to tell you what happened.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The endgame is near for Iran. It remains defiant, but the Bush administration is also standing firm. I'll have more on that story coming up.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The weather is great across the nation. Too many planes trying to take off at once. Now we have volume delays at Newark, 30 minutes.

Details on the rest of the day, coming up.

O'BRIEN: And remembering this classic photo. The man who captured this enduring peace of history has died. His story and a look back all ahead on this AMERICAN MORNING.

Welcome everybody.

I'm Soledad O'Brien.

SANCHEZ: And I'm Rick Sanchez sitting in for Miles today.

Good to be here.

O'BRIEN: Nice to have you.

We really appreciate that.

Let's start with what's happening in the JonBenet Ramsey case. The man who is suspected in her murder, John Mark Karr, is waking up in a Los Angeles jail this morning. Karr arrived in L.A. from Thailand just about seven-and-a-half hours ago.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Boulder.

Drew Griffin flew on the same plane with Karr. He is in L.A.

Let's begin with Drew -- good morning.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad. He took a lot of care in dressing for the occasion when he was about to get off the plane. But this morning, Soledad, he is in prison blues behind me inside the twin correctional facility here near downtown Los Angeles.

It was a strange flight that got him here, a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok in which he was flown in business class. They did that for security reasons. Three guards with him, two from the federal immigration authorities and one from the district attorney's office in Boulder, Colorado. They had him in the very last row of business class, up against the window. He didn't talk to any of the media on board. He also, because Thai Airways forbade it, would not wear -- was not going to be wearing any kind of restraints, no kinds of handcuffs at all.

He was an oddity on the flight, drawing a lot of attention, especially from those people who were getting on that flight and learning for the first time they would be sharing their 15-hour flight with an accused murderer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't -- I don't feel anything. I mean, obviously, because he's just as human as we all are. We all made our own mistakes. But I do feel that being that it is the United States of America and this is a -- I wouldn't blame the United States of America, because I do blame Thai Airways for allowing him to have them.


GRIFFIN: He got up about three times during the flight to use the restroom and each time he had to have both of his male guards there because, Soledad, they wouldn't let him lock the door, in fact, would not let him close the door all the way. One guard actually would just stick a foot in the doorway to make sure that did not close.

But other than the bizarreness of it, it was a relatively easy flight to take and certainly there was no kind of altercations or any activities on board -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Drew Griffin on that flight.

Thanks, Drew.

What's next for Karr?

Ed Lavandera is in Boulder, Colorado for us -- hey, Ed, good morning.


Well, you know, investigators are now trying to figure out that when and if John Karr arrives here -- and when exactly that would happen is still unclear -- but when he arrives here in Colorado, will it be the first time he's ever set foot in Boulder or was he here already? And then that is what investigators have been working throughout the weekend trying to piece together.

Officials here tell us that they expect John Karr to be here within the next couple of days, after he goes through the extradition hearings in Los Angeles. But just exactly how long that will take is not clear at this point. We're still trying to work out the details on that.

If he does not fight extradition, it would take a couple of days. If he does, that could delay everything by several days, perhaps even weeks. And, of course, investigators here, we know, have been working throughout the weekend. There's a little bit of a deadline that they would be up against just in case that perhaps the case against him isn't moving very quickly. It's hard to tell because prosecutors just aren't talking about what they're getting in this case.

But we're told by a spokeswoman that once he is here, they will have three days to file charges against him in the death of JonBenet Ramsey, the 6-year-old beauty queen who was killed here 10 years ago.

So they will have to do that quickly. And it's hard to gauge just how much progress they've made. We know they're following up on lots of leads and have spent here -- the weekend here working. But just how much progress they have made in their case against John Karr is hard to tell -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Because they're not revealing a lot of information, I mean which is sort of curious about a case that was so notorious.

Why is that? I mean it's so bizarre and yet we're sort of getting nothing from them.

LAVANDERA: Yes, outside of just some logistical type of information as to what's happening next, there's been a virtual clampdown in terms of information and in terms of how this case is progressing.

Reasons for that, it's kind of hard to determine. You know, publicly what they'll say is they do not want to jeopardize the case. But this has also been a case that has been plagued by a lot of infighting over the last 10 years between the police department and the prosecutors here. So perhaps this is a way of trying to get everyone on the same page, speaking in one voice, as they say. And perhaps that's driving a little bit of that.

But there has been nothing from the D.A.'s office here since last Thursday.

O'BRIEN: Ed Lavandera for us in Boulder.

Thanks, Ed.

Some questions about what Karr was doing in Thailand. CNN obtained a copy of Karr's hotel bill in Bangkok and found that calls had been made to a clinic specializing in cosmetic surgery and sex change operations. And doctors there confirm that Karr had visited the clinic, wouldn't reveal, though, exactly what treatments he received.

Tonight, Larry King is going to have an exclusive interview with Ramsey family attorney Lynn Wood and Michael Tracey, the Colorado professor who led police to Karr. Those are his guests tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: In America this morning, listen and you can hear the sound of gunfire. It happened during a tense Texas standoff. Three police officers and one state trooper were wounded Sunday in Midlothian, Texas. That's near Dallas. Authorities say that the gunman died when he shot himself.

Also, a chilling confession from a Missouri man arrested for an attempted carjacking. Investigators say the man, Michael Lee Shaver, Jr. told them he killed and dismembered seven people. After searching his home, police say they have found bone fragments on his property. However, they also say they're still investigating.

In Arizona, two accused serial killers face a court hearing later this morning. Police say the two men, Dale Hausner and Samuel John Dietman, have terrorized Phoenix for the past year. They're accused of a string of random late night shootings around the city.

The Bush administration reportedly wants to put under wraps information that was once available to anyone. Today's "Washington Post" says the administration has begun-making information about its strategic weapons arsenal during the cold war secret. Federal agencies are blocking out all information on previously public documents. The report quotes experts as saying that there are no national security reasons to keep historical info secret, especially when the info has been published for several years.

Iran's supreme leader is now more defiant this morning. He says Iran will continue to pursue its nuclear programs despite a looming deadline from the U.N. Security Council. The announcement follows a show of force from Iran. The country conducted military exercises this weekend.

How is the U.S. reaction -- reacting to this, I should say?

CNN's Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House.

She's following the story for us -- good morning, Suzanne.


Of course, the end game is very near here for Iran and there's good news and bad news for the administration.

The good news, of course, is that it is not acting alone, it is acting with the U.N. Security Council essentially telling Iran it has to give up enriching uranium, that program to build what it says is a nuclear weapons program, otherwise face economic sanctions, diplomatic sanctions from this international body.

The bad news here is that the Bush administration has not achieved its ultimate objective, that is to get Iran to comply, to cooperate. We have heard from numerous Iranian officials, including the president, Ahmadinejad, last week, saying that this is a civil program, that they will continue their civilian nuclear program, that it is not meant to build weapons.

The United States has been under tremendous pressure from European allies for these talks directly with Iran. These were condition talks that Iran essentially has now rejected. And the only thing left for the Bush administration to do is to continue to try to make the case here that Iran is a dangerous regime and it's worthy of the harshest sanctions.

We heard from a White House spokeswoman yesterday saying Iran sits at the nexus of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, we know that Iran is producing and developing delivery systems that could threaten our friends and allies in the Middle East and Europe and eventually the United States itself.

Now, Rick, it is far from clear whether or not the Bush administration considers this statement from the supreme leader as alternately the final statement on this issue. They may give it another couple of weeks as the deadline approaches, perhaps until tomorrow. They had been working with Iran's nuclear negotiators. So we'll just have to wait and see -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: Is anybody at the White House seeing them as more of a threat now as a result of what happened in the skirmish between Israel and Hezbollah?

MALVEAUX: Well, you know, certainly Iran has been bolstered by that whole outcome, by that skirmish, of course, and the conflict there. They realize, in some ways, they have been making the same statements for quite some time, warning Iran against arming Hezbollah. They realize public opinion certainly shows that Hezbollah, in the end, perhaps, has won that battle. But they believe that they have the backing of the international community on this one.

SANCHEZ: Suzanne Malveaux following things for us from the White House.

We thank you, Suzanne -- Soledad, over to you.

O'BRIEN: Security, to quote, is tight in Baghdad today after a weekend lockdown in that city. Extra security was on hand, in fact, for a massive Shiite religious ceremony. But gunmen still opened fire on some of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and they killed as many as 20 people.

CNN's Michael Holmes is live in Baghdad -- Michael, good morning.

They're praising the security in spite of the numbers of dead, frankly.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's ironic, isn't it, Soledad?

Good morning to you.

Yes, in this city, where the number of dead has been averaging 100 civilians a day, 20 dead at this procession would have been seen by security forces as something of a success, especially when you think back last year, when the exact same pilgrimage ended with nearly 1,000 deaths after a stampede was caused after rumors spread through the crowd that there was a suicide bomber among them.

Well, on this occasion, security as out in force. A lot of checkpoints. There was a total vehicle ban. A total ban, in fact, on anything with wheels. That included bicycles. But it didn't stop gunmen in Sunni neighborhoods from firing on the procession. There were some sustained gun-battles between them and security forces. At the end of the day, 20 people were killed. Some of these gunmen were also killed, as well. Three hundred people were injured, many of them in the crush to get away.

This city is really a very dangerous place. I hear gunfire behind me now, Soledad. And this is a daily sort of event. And when you had a major event like yesterday and really only 20 dead, if we can say that, that's going to be seen as a success.

O'BRIEN: Yes, that is -- it sort of says it all, doesn't it?

Let me ask you about this second trial for Saddam Hussein. It begins today.

Are they still in recess or are they back on track?

HOLMES: Well, actually, they should be back in the next five minutes or so. They've just taken an hour or so off to have some lunch and discuss some legal issues. A lot of procedural matters going on at the moment. Some of Saddam Hussein's defense attorneys are arguing with the court about their right to speak to the court.

This is, of course, the second trial for Saddam Hussein. The first trial, we still don't have a verdict on that, concerned Dujail, where 148 young men and boys were killed after a failed assassination attempt. We're expecting a verdict on that probably mid to late October.

This trial concerns the Kurdish slaughter, if you like, in the north of Iraq. One hundred and eighty-two thousand people according to the prosecution, were killed in a series of attacks in 1988. Some of those attacks including weapons of gas and the like -- back to you, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Michael Holmes.

Yes, I remember that case so well. It'll be very, I'm sure, devastating to hear some of the details as this trial now gets underway, just like we saw in the last one.

Thanks, Michael. He's reporting from Baghdad this morning.

Eleven minutes past the hour.

Let's check the forecast with Chad.

He's at the CNN Center -- good morning, again.

MYERS: Good morning, Soledad.


O'BRIEN: Coming up this morning, we're talking about the Middle East and the cease-fire.

Can it hold after Israel's weekend raid in Lebanon?

We're going to talk to a top Lebanese official about that just ahead.

SANCHEZ: Also, the hunt for Osama bin Laden. We're going to look at the secret mission to take him out and the mistake that may have actually let him slip away.

O'BRIEN: And we're going to talk to director Spike Lee. He's got a new documentary about Hurricane Katrina. It's called "When The Levees Broke." We'll talk about that and why it was important to make it, what it's meant to Katrina's victims and much more, all ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


O'BRIEN: The cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah is holding, sort of.

But for how much longer?

Fifteen thousand U.N. peacekeepers are supposed to be deploying near the Lebanon-Israel border. But there are some big questions about what countries are going to participate and when.

Joining us this morning, Mohamad Chatah.

He is an adviser to the Lebanese prime minister, Fouad Siniora.

Nice to see you, sir.

Thank you very much for talking with us.

Let's first talk troop numbers, if we can.

Three thousand Lebanese troops, I understand, are now being deployed to the border. But 15,000 were promised.

What's the delay with the other 12,000? MOHAMAD CHATAH, ADVISER TO LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER SINIORA: Actually, the 15,000 are being deployed, of course, in a methodical way. And they will be able to deploy throughout that small region of South Lebanon is a matter of days.

We are concerned, however, that Israel's withdraw is going on slowly, which may slow down the whole operation. That's not something we want to see.

O'BRIEN: Israel would say well, we need to do commando raids like the one we saw over the weekend because the Lebanese troops aren't keeping weapons out of the hands of Hezbollah. And that was a raid to stop the weapons from flowing in from Syria to Hezbollah.

Is, in fact -- are, in fact, the Lebanese troops committed to doing just that, making sure arms don't get into the hands of Hezbollah fighters?

CHATAH: Well, we disagree with that totally. We disagree that what Israel did a couple of days ago is allowed under the U.N. Security Council resolution. The U.N. disagrees with that. Obviously, a cessation of hostilities is a cessation of hostilities. That means no raids of the kind we saw.

Now, the Lebanese Army in the south has made it clear that it will tolerate no weapons except those of its own and those of the UNIFIL. The Lebanese government is doing all it can, with the cooperation of others, with UNIFIL and others, to make sure that Lebanon is in charge of its own country, its own territories and that no hostile action is undertaken from Lebanon toward Israel.

And we expect the same on the Israeli side.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the commitment from the peacekeepers. As you know now, it seems like those U.N. peacekeepers are going to be delayed and what's being promised is not exactly large numbers.

How concerned are you that this very fragile cease-fire is not going to hold long enough to get those peacekeepers in, now that they're delayed?

CHATAH: Of course, we are concerned. We want the cease-fire to be stable, to be sustained and a cease-fire that will allow us to move further on toward longer-term solutions.

Now, true, the international forces have not come in the numbers and as fast as we would have hoped. But we're still very hopeful that in the coming days we will see that changing.

The Italian government has already indicated a readiness to deploy significant numbers quickly and I believe the Lebanese cabinet is going to encourage that and welcome that commitment. There are others who are committed to help us.

But I must add that we heard things from Israel yesterday to the effect that they put restrictions on which countries can contribute and which countries cannot. And we believe that that will further delay the full deployment of the international force, which the international resolution, the Security Council resolution, provides for.

O'BRIEN: France had said it was going to lead the international force. Right now, they've committed -- let me repeat my question, because I can tell you didn't have your IFB in so you probably couldn't hear me.

France had said they were going to lead the international force and now they've committed, I guess, somewhere around 200 forces, a tiny percentage, obviously, of what's needed. They've sort of said, listen, we don't want another Bosnia. The rules of engagement are not clear.

Do you blame France and the other European nations who are dragging their feet?

CHATAH: I wouldn't call it dragging their feet. I say we understand that some countries want to see clarity as far as the rules of engagement and want to feel that this situation is one of peace, not one of another round soon.

We are working with the United Nations to make sure that these things are met and we hope that Israel does not complicate the process by undertaking the kind of breaches that we saw.

Now, France is still playing a critical role. They are providing a lead contingent of 200 officers. They also have much larger numbers off the coast. They also are providing logistical support. Actually, they're leading -- French officers are leading the 2,000 troops that are already there in the south, the existing UNIFIL.

Now, other countries are also, as I said, from Europe and elsewhere, are committing forces. So, yes, we want this to happen quickly and we want countries to commit themselves. But this cannot be helped -- and I repeat myself -- by any actions that will show that we are into another conflict period, not into a sustained cease-fire toward a lasting and permanent resolution.

O'BRIEN: Mohamad Chatah is the adviser to the Lebanese prime minister.

Thanks for talking with us this morning.

We appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: We've just gotten some word from the White House we should share with you. This just in. The president is going to be making some comments today. He's going to do so promptly at one minute past 10:00 a.m.

We here at CNN are going to be carrying it for you.

We're told it's going to be from the briefing room, a news conference by President Bush that was just announced moments ago at the White House.

Once again, we'll be carrying that for you and bring you any news prior to it, if it should become available.

Still to come, the search for Osama bin Laden. We're going to talk to the former leader of the secret CIA unit that's been trying to capture him. He says one mistake, one mistake let bin Laden slip away.

Plus, the questions surrounding John Mark Karr's confession.

If he didn't kill JonBenet Ramsey then why would he lie?

Famous false confessions of the past -- we look into them, ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.


SANCHEZ: It's the suspect in the JonBenet murder case and he's been in a Los Angeles cell since early this morning. Karr arrived in the United States overnight, after a 15-hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand.

Now, the next step for Karr is a hearing to return him to Boulder, Colorado, where the 6-year-old Ramsey was killed almost 10 years ago.

So far, that hearing has not been set. We're told it could happen in as long as 10 days.

Now, Karr's televised confession last week was, without a doubt, sensational. He told an interviewer that he was with JonBenet when she died, that he was there in the room, that it was accidental. His confession is not unprecedented, though.

But in the past, others have stepped forward and confessed. Sometimes, though, just to bring the spotlight on themselves.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): The BTK killer, otherwise known as Dennis Rader, pleaded guilty to murdering 10 people.

DENNIS RADER: And then I killed them.

ROBERT CHAMBERS: And it was right there, right next to the curve.

SANCHEZ: Robert Chambers convicted of killing a woman he picked up at a bar.

Gary Ridgeway confessed to murdering 48 women in a killing spree in the 1980s.

GARY RIDGEWAY: Then I got behind her and I killed her. SANCHEZ: These are the chilling words of men who became famous for their confessions. All of their confessions feeding a media circus, making them twisted rock stars of murder.


SANCHEZ: But not every confession carries the truth. Some just want the fame.

In the 1930s, when Charles Lindbergh's baby was infamously kidnapped, hundreds of fake confessors lined up at police departments to take the credit.

SAUL KASSIN, WILLIAMS COLLEGE: So there are voluntary false confessions where people often do have a pathological need for attention or recognition or fame. These are people who walk into a police station and volunteer a confession.

SANCHEZ: For that reason, convicted criminals such as Texas drifter Henry Lee Lucas originally claimed the murder of 350 people.

HENRY LEE LUCAS: It didn't matter how many. I didn't have no feelings about killing.

SANCHEZ: But instead of going down in history as a prolific serial killer, as he bragged, he instead went down as a prolific serial confessor, ultimately found guilty of 13 murders.

But false confessions don't always come from those seeking fame. Sometimes they come from hours spent in an interrogation room, where suspects are made to feel like a confession is the easy way out.

KASSIN: It is OK for an interrogator to say to a suspect that they have evidence when, in fact, that's not true. And once you've got that suspect feeling trapped, then the interrogator is likely to shift gears to make confession sound as if it's not going to have such devastating consequences.

SANCHEZ: In 1989, the Central Park jogger rape case had already become a media circus. And in a turn that stunned New Yorkers, suspect Corey Wise made this famous confession after he had been interrogated for hours.

COREY WISE: This is my first rape.

SANCHEZ: He spent years in jail until the real rapist confessed, backed by DNA evidence. In fact, according to the Innocence Project, more than a quarter of all of the cases later exonerated by DNA were originally convicted after a false confession.

KASSIN: And so it's important, I think, for people to understand they can't always tell a false confession when they see one, and therefore an in-depth analysis is necessary.

SANCHEZ: So are John Mark Karr's words to the media an effort to become another rock star of murder? Or is he a real murderer? (END VIDEO TAPE)

SANCHEZ: And the answer to that question lies with what most experts that we've talked to say is all about DNA.


SANCHEZ: It will either say yes, he's exaggerating and he's bragging; or, B, he's a killer.

O'BRIEN: Yes. And we'll wait and see, like everybody else.

SANCHEZ: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: A look at our top stories is straight ahead, including the very latest on the violence in Iraq. Twenty Shiite Muslims killed in a sniper attack this weekend. Authorities, though, are claiming a small victory. We'll explain why.

Plus, we talk to Director Spike Lee. His new Katrina documentary will make its debut on HBO tonight. He's going to tell us why the project is one of his most important ever.

Those stories and much more ahead on AMERICAN MORNING.



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