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CNN NEWSROOM

Intruder Killed at Prosecutor's Home; Michael Jackson's Doctor Sings for CNN; Sanford's Fiancee at Victory Speech; Kevin Ware Rejoins Teammates; Obama Pushes Gun Control in Colorado; Rutgers Basketball Coach Fired; New Clues in Murders of Two Prosecutors

Aired April 3, 2013 - 10:00   ET

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


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CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in the NEWSROOM, a man shot dead after trying to force his way into a Colorado district attorney's home.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My first thought was, another incident of public officials being targeted.

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COSTELLO: A random attack or the latest in a string of attacks on prosecutors?

Plus -- caught on tape, a basketball coach using homophobic slurs and abusing his players, is a three-game suspension enough?

And tired of paying to watch cable television? Don't fret, you can soon watch on your smartphone or laptop for a (inaudible).

The little clown fish is swimming back to theatres.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am proud to officially announce that Pixar is making a sequel to "Finding Nemo." You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Good morning. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Carol Costello. It has been a very scary time for many working in the legal system. Two prosecutors murdered in Texas and last month's shooting of Colorado's prison chief.

Now a Colorado prosecutor and her husband are in the spotlight after an intruder tried to get into their home and was subsequently killed. It happened on Monday night. They tell the police the intruder tried to force his way into the house. Police say they don't think there are any other links to the recent attacks.

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PAM RUSSELL, FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE: Investigators at this point want to make sure we let everybody know that there are no apparent ties from this shooting to any prior recent shootings. However, the investigation is ongoing. Investigators are looking at all possible leads, all possible ties, and trying to learn everything they possibly can about this man.

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COSTELLO: Jim Spellman joins us now from Denver. Jim, first of all, who shot the man and who was he?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's unclear whether it was the deputy district attorney or her husband who is a sheriff's deputy there that actually shot the man. His name is Joshua Stevens. He's in his early 30s.

Our information at this point is that he was unarmed when he came to their door around midnight Monday night. He'd only been living in this community for about one week, Carol. We hear he's been -- made his way from Michigan here, apparently looking for work and was staying with some friends.

Now the deputy district attorney and her husband lived in what was one time an operating hotel. It still has the sign, "Riverside Hotel" right there. Why he would be coming there at midnight, we don't know. I'd been to this community before.

It would definitely be unusual to have somebody come to your door at that time of night. Now we checked on his background. All we were able to find was an arrest back in 2007 for fleeing from police, a police car chase, nothing since then.

Police are going to want to know who he has been spending his time with and what he's been doing for this last week. Because even though investigators say at this point it doesn't appear to be related to those other attacks.

They want to be absolutely positive. We know that law enforcement and league, people in the prosecutors' offices around the state have been on extremely high alert. So I can only imagine that the knock on their door at midnight might have been like.

COSTELLO: Was it more than enough on the door? There were reports that the man was trying to force his way in. What was he doing? Was he trying to break down the door? I mean, what was it?

SPELLMAN: Well, we don't know. It was right before midnight when the deputy district attorney there called 911 and she said there was this man who is behaving erratically and that's when altercation happened. That's the main question that has yet to be answered, what happened, why was he there and exactly what led this from a man being at their door to an altercation where somebody would pull a gun?

COSTELLO: Jim Spellman reporting live from Colorado this morning.

The man in prison for the involuntarily manslaughter in the Michael Jackson's death case is speaking out in this new lawsuit trying to clear his name. Dr. Conrad Murray insists he is not guilty.

But that's not all that's making news, last night Dr. Murray, he actually sang a Nat King Cole song for CNN's Anderson Cooper. He said that song really tells his story.

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CONRAD MURRAY, MICHAEL JACKSON'S PHYSICIAN (via telephone): She's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot. He wrote a note to Santa for some crayons and a toy, broke his little heart when he found Santa hadn't come in the streets he emptied all of the lucky boys, but goodness knows he didn't want a lot. I'm so sorry for that laddy who hasn't got a daddy. He's the little boy that Santa Claus forgot. That song tells my story.

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COSTELLO: Wow. And I know you said wow. This interview comes as Michael Jackson's mother is accusing concert promoter, AEG Live, of negligent hiring of who else, Dr. Conrad Murray.

Other top stories this morning, a surprising moment from former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, he gave a victory speech with this fiancee by his side. Now this woman is the very same woman that Sanford admitted to having an affair with in Argentina after he first told the public he was actually hiking the Appalachian Trails.

What's unusual is that Maria Belen Chapur almost never appears in public with Sanford. Sanford overwhelmingly won South Carolina's Republican primary run off for a U.S. Senate seat. Sanford will now face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, who is, of course, Stephen Colbert's sister.

Rutgers University facing pressure to fire men's basketball coach, Mike Rice, after ESPN aired video of Rice abusing his players at practice. ESPN's "Outside The Line" showed Rice throwing basketballs at players and hurling homophobic slurs. CNN has reached out to the university and the coach for a comment. They have not called back.

Kevin Ware is back on a Louisville campus after surgery on the leg he shattered in Sunday's NCAA Tournament game. Ware hopes to travel with his teammates to the final four here in Atlanta, but a doctor will have to clear him. CNN's Rachel Nichols will talk to Ware live. That will happen on CNN today at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

In just a couple of hours, President Obama embarks on a mission to revive a nationwide support for gun control. He is traveling to Colorado, a state scarred by recent gun violence including last summer's killing spree inside an Aurora movie theatre.

Not coincidentally, the state has also recently enacted some of the toughest gun control measures in the country. Jessica Yellin joins us by the phone from Denver to preview the president's new push. Good morning, Jessica.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Hi, Carol. Sources close to the president tell me that while he's here, President Obama will highlight the fact that this state, with its western frontier tradition, managed to pass its own new laws requiring background checks for all gun purchases.

And they did it after the recent Sandy Hook shooting. So he's going to use the success here to push Congress to try to do the same and make that the top priority issue when Congress comes back from recess, which happens next week.

Now while he's here today, Carol, the president is going to hold a round table with families of victims including from the Aurora movie theatre and the Columbine massacres, and he'll also talk to law enforcement and community activists -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, he's got a challenge, you know, trying to push any gun control measure through Congress because I hear the background check bill that is going before Congress is in trouble.

YELLIN: You're right. A handful of Republicans has promised to filibuster that bill, which includes universal background checks for all gun purchases. So Senate Democrats are looking for the 60 votes they need to overcome that opposition. They currently don't have it.

They are working on a compromise. One option is to try to make a deal to eliminate some of the record-keeping requirements on background checks to win over more Republican support. But if they do not get enough Republicans to overcome that 60-vote block, this bill would fail -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Jessica Yellin, we'll hear more from you later today.

Gun control opponents like the NRA say there is no need for new laws. We just need to enforce the laws that are already on the books. Is that true? CNN chief Washington correspondent and anchor of "THE LEAD" Jake Tapper spent the night on patrol with some agents finding a dual threat bad guys with guns and good intentions without enough funding. So is the NRA right?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's really interesting. As you say, everybody agrees that we should enforce the laws on the books. So this is what the agents are doing in California. They work in the attorney general's office.

There's a list of individuals who are registered to have handguns, who have to register if you have a handgun in California. Then there's a list of individuals who are prohibited from having guns. These are felons, people who have been adjudicated to have emotional problems, people with restraining orders for domestic violence.

They combine the list and come up with this third list. It's about 20,000 people. They are called armed and prohibited. We spent the night with Department of Justice and California officials, agents, trying to get these guns.

It is incredibly labor intensive. Here's the scene from the night we spent with them.

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TAPPER: And even though he's admitted that there are guns in the house and he's not allowed to own guns, you are not allowed to go get them?

SPECIAL AGENT JOHN MARSH, CALIFORNIA BUREAU OF FIREARMS: Well, everybody has rights and his rights are against search and seizure. At this time, he denied consent to search his residence. We'll go present all of the facts to a judge and ask to search the residence for the weapons inside the residence, what we believe to be in there.

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TAPPER: And so that takes hours and hours and hours, not to mention all of the hours we spent going to the homes of people prohibited from having guns who were not there and pretending not to be there to do this job to get guns from 20,000 people who have guns, prohibited from having them, California has just over 30 people in the entire state.

Every year they get maybe 2,000 people who have guns, they get them back. But they also get 3,000 people added to the list. So it is a very difficult task and this is just enforcing the laws on the books. This is one -- we decided to explore this. One argument that people are making, just enforces the laws on the books. It's a lot tougher than it sounds.

COSTELLO: I know because it's not only a shortage of manpower but preventing the authorities from going after -- from enforcing laws on the books, right?

TAPPER: That's right. That was one case you just saw. Another case the officers went into the home of this man and I think he was in Fontana, California, east of Los Angeles, the guy fainted or -- they weren't sure if he was faking it or not faking it.

He fainted and they had to call in paramedics, they had to call the fire department. It was a whole thing and at the end of the day they recovered a lot of different guns that this guy was not allowed to have. It is incredibly labor intensive. Everyone agrees should not have guns. It's not so easy to get them back.

COSTELLO: I can't wait to see the full report. Jake Tapper, many thanks. You can see the full report at 4 p.m. Eastern on CNN.

Just ahead in the NEWSROOM, from the school house to the jailhouse, we'll have the latest on the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal and what's happening to its former -- or the Atlanta school system's former award winning superintendent.

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COSTELLO: All right, so this didn't take long. The Rutgers' basketball Coach Mike Rice has been fired. His contract has been terminated by the university. As we all know ESPN released this video of Coach Rice abusing his basketball players during practice. He threw basketballs at them. He also hurled some homophobic slurs and other derogatory terms at his players.

Let's head to New York now and check in with CNN's Pam Brown. So I think there are so many questions. Why didn't Rutgers' fire this guy before?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol. There are so many questions and we're still waiting to hear an official response from the university. But as you mentioned, Carol, we did receive a tweet from the assistant athletic director at Rutgers University and in that tweet he says, based upon recently revealed information and a review of previously discovered issues Rutgers has terminated the contract of Mike Rice.

Now, this comes amid public fury over the video that we're looking at here where we clearly see Mike Rice, the basketball coach of Rutgers in close range with his players, hitting them, grabbing them, throwing basketballs, as you see right there, at the players' legs and at their head.

Officials at the university first saw this video last November. It was brought to them by the head of player development at Rutgers whose contract was not renewed. From there, there was an investigation into Mike Rice and in December, the university decided to suspend Mike Rice for three games and fine him $50,000.

But now that this video has been released to the public, we're seeing the extent of Mike Rice's behavior and we're hearing that he no longer has a job with the university. Again, waiting to hear official word from the university and we'll bring you the very latest -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Pam, I'll let you get back to the case. I want to bring in Jon Wertheim from "Sports Illustrated" once again. It's interesting what Pam said that Rutgers said that Rutgers decided to fire this guy because of recently revealed information. Come on, I mean, that defies fragility, doesn't it?

JON WERTHEIM, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED" (via telephone): Well, I mean, the fact that it got to this. It's pretty appalling and you can say they bowed to public pressure, but really there's no reason for this coach to have kept his job after it was first released.

The statement that the athletic director attempted to rehabilitate someone who engaged in repeated behavior like this is really pretty appalling and again the precedence for having even kept him for this amount of time is pretty golly and Rutgers does not come out of this looking particularly good, no.

COSTELLO: Is this just another sad part of the sports culture in our country? That this guy was kept on and thought, you know, the university thought he could be rehabilitated?

WERTHEIM: I think among other things this really highlights the imbalance. I mean, again, we talked about it a few minutes ago where the student had complained about this and sought to transfer, the student would have sat out a year.

And yet a coach can abuse his players like this and walks away with a three-game suspension and a fine that's a small fraction of his salary. I think what this also highlights just the mechanisms in place and how this is really a rig game in favor of the administrators and the wealthy coaches and against the student athletes.

It's just more fodder for really what's -- he's the tipping point of really the hypocrisy of college sports.

COSTELLO: And my last question to you, Bobby Knight was fired, right, by Indiana. But eventually another university hired him. Will that happen for Mike Rice, do you think?

WERTHEIM: Well, you know, Bob Knight was an Olympic coach who won three titles. Mike Rice does not have that track record. I've got to think that, you know, it's going to be a long -- we've seen a lot of coaches rehabilitate themselves, a lot of disgraces coaches have gotten back on top and sort of extended the ladder again, but I don't think Mike Rice is going to get a division one head coaching job any time soon, no.

COSTELLO: All right, Jon Wertheim from "Sports Illustrated," thanks again for joining because it's coming to us quickly. We appreciate it. Again, Rutgers, the Rutgers basketball coach, Mike Rice fired by Rutgers University, much more of this coming on CNN. We're going to take a break. We'll be back with more.

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COSTELLO: New developments to tell you about this morning in the case of two murdered prosecutors in Kaufman, Texas. Investigators are now looking at a former Justice of the Peace named Eric Williams. He was fired in a corruption probe and reportedly had been prosecuted by the two men who are now dead, who were killed.

We're talking about these two men, District Attorney Mike McLellann, he is on the left and Prosecutor Mark Hasse, he's on the right. He was killed in January in a parking lot at the court house. Officials are also looking at theories from drug cartels to white supremacist gangs.

CNN's George Howell is live from Kaufman, Texas, this morning and also with us is Richard Valdemar, former detective who specialized in gang activity. George, I want to start with you, with the latest on this person of interest. What can you tell us about him?

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, CNN spoke with his attorney. We understand that they met, investigators met at a place here in Kaufman to take swab samples from his hand to test for a gun residue.

Now CNN cannot -- does not know what the results of those tests revealed to investigators, but again, this is something that we learned and one person that investigators may be talking to several other people. You have to put you it into perspective because this is one possibility along with the Aryan Brotherhood. We've heard about that. The possibility we've also heard about drug cartels, the possibility of this being an inside hit. There are many different possibilities under the sun. No real frontrunners here, but you can certainly tell that investigators are chasing the shadows of all of the cases that these men have prosecuted over their careers to find any solid, credible leads to help them get to the bottom of this case.

COSTELLO: Tell us about the atmosphere there. You are at the courthouse and walking around the courthouse, what is the atmosphere like?

HOWELL: It was really interesting yesterday, Carol. Because what we saw -- we saw these public officials being flanked by law enforcement officials. I mean, you get a sense that everyone is taking security very seriously. In fact, we spoke to a district attorney in nearby Anderson County. We got a sense of how concerned he is doing his job in this type of environment. Take a listen.

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DOUG LOWE, ANDERSON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I feel like Mike was murdered for what he did and so it still makes -- it's a little scary for people like me, but it's not going to change the way I do business and I'm not going to walk in fear. I'm not going to not prosecute people I can prosecute. But you got to be careful.

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HOWELL: So the new district attorney, the interim district attorney, Brandy Fernandez would be filling the spot, Carol, for the next 21 days until Governor Rick Perry here appoints a new D.A. for this county, but even she has security, 24-hour security given what is happening out here.

COSTELLO: Wow. Richard, we're hearing all of this speculation about gangs targeting district attorneys. Is this common?

RICHARD VALDEMAR, GANG EXPERT: No, it's not. Most of the person gangs have rules against targeting law enforcement because of the repercussions it would cost.

COSTELLO: So from your vantage point and you've studied gang behavior over the years, what do you suspect is going on here?

VALDEMAR: Well, I have to say that would be pure speculation. There were some ties involving the Colorado head of the Department of Corrections up there, that it was involving the 211 crew, which is a subgroup affiliated with the Aryan Brotherhood gang.

COSTELLO: So we know Evan Ebel, the man suspected of the Colorado prison's chief killing. He was gunned down in Texas and police are pretty sure he's the one responsible. He belonged to a white supremacist group. So was he acting alone, do you think then?

VALDEMAR: Well, we'd have to get the facts, but I'd be careful calling him a white supremacist because it gives you a stereotype that these groups are formed because of their racial hatred. Actually they are criminal groups, more like the mafia, so these organizations will not discriminate in using whoever they can because the bottom line is money.

COSTELLO: And George, back to you for a second, you say police are covering all bases there in Texas, right? Evan Ebel was gunned down in Texas. Is he a suspect or have they ruled him out in the deaths in Texas.

HOWELL: You know, Carol, they are not saying anything. In fact, just the other day when we thought we'd have a news conference with the sheriff's office, we were told that that would not be happening. They are very tight lipped about any indication as to who could be a suspect in this case.

But I do want to go back to one point, as far as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, we've also heard from our sources that that group are less organized outside the prison system and less likely to be involved in this, but certainly still on the radar.

You have to remember back in December, the Texas Department of Public Safety, they put out a bulletin stating that the Aryan Brotherhood was actively targeting, would actively target law enforcement that's certainly why that question was raised with Mr. Hasse's death being raised again. So that's really why they are on the radar at this point.

COSTELLO: Well, I'm sure you'll continue to be on the case. George Howell, Richard Valdemar, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Of course, George, you have to be with us. We still appreciate it. Thanks to you both. We'll be right back.

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